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
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?
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
This fall our focus is clearly on our neighbor Germany, and this is not a fluke. Intercessors who focus on healing the land see Germany (the Fatherland) and France (the Motherland) as the keys to the wholeness of Europe. Germany has been an abusive father in the past, causing France to resemble a struggling single mother played out socially, economically and spiritually. Each of us had a part to play in working to restore the "marriage" between these two countries last month, and what a great fit with our calling!
David spent a week with YWAMers in Berlin mid-month prayer-walking with local intercessors for specific issues related to the city. (You can read his fascinating report here.) The interesting connection was that Oceane’s aunt stayed with me while he was gone (to attend parent/teacher meetings) and I was able to witness the painful dysfunction between her and Oceane, a perfect picture of the image of fatherless France.
A few days after his return, I was driven to a church near Stuttgart to introduce the Sozo ministry. When our leaders travelled to minister in the past without intercessors on-site, they suffered a lot of physical and emotional attack before, during, and after the trip. It was also too heavy to give the training and also offer personal ministry. So this time they brought a whole team of trusted friends along.
On the main day of our teaching, Oct. 27th, it snowed all day – a beautiful prophetic sign of healing for the church. My role was to give personal Sozos during the seminar and 6 out of the 7 people scheduled got a breakthrough in intimacy with the Godhead, including the woman who hosted me and my translator! I give much of the credit to our 3 intercessors who kept the heavens open for us. As the pastor prayed for our team before we led the Sunday morning service, I felt strongly like I was joining Paul in his travels among the early churches. We all walked in our different gifts with no pressure of performance: driving, preaching, translating, teaching, healing, worshipping, praying, prophesying and laughing! It was a light and joyful 4 days. What a great picture of the body of Christ (and need I mention the spiritual impact of a Franco-American team coming in humility to minister to the Germans?)
And now it is sweet Olivia’s turn. On Sunday she will take an all-day train trip with her other classmate to Vienna for 3 weeks of German language immersion, living with a family and attending a small Christian school that she fell in love with last year during a class trip. It has been a huge battle to organize this trip for only 2 students, so we can only guess that the enemy is nervous for some reason that we are not yet aware of!
But wait! The German connections continue: My trusted dentist is German and last month after finishing my 2nd crown, she asked me if she could come to my house weekly for an hour of English conversation in anticipation of a visit to Australia to see her daughter for Christmas! So combined with the Sozos, it is the Germans who have been making up the support drop this month and provision is a vital role of the father!
The other connection is with our beloved German YWAM leaders from our DTS in 1999. In the last 2 summers, we have reconnected with them and their children when they started vacationing in France by caravan. Their oldest daughter wants to improve her French and become a teacher and she fell in love with the chateau and bonded with Olivia. So we have just agreed for her to start applying for a year abroad, living with us while interning at our school with the German/art teacher! What a contrast she would be from Oceane, as a girl from the Fatherland growing up loved by her father in a vibrant Christian community!
Other news not related to Germany will just have to wait until next month!
This has been the lightest back-to-school month ever and I cannot account for it because I am doing a lot more than I’ve done in past years. Despite regular hormonal hijacking by my body, there is seems to be a grace on everything I’m investing in. This month I’ll recount 2 of the biggest mountains of worry that quickly became molehills of happiness:
Big Worry#1: Like every year, we were asked to host a student in our home. How flattering, except that:
- we wanted to be free to do more ministry travel this year.
- This 12 yr. old was on 3 different meds for anxiety and health problems that caused her to miss too much school last year.
- She was abandoned by her parents at birth and was going through a little rebellious streak with the aunt that has devoted her life to raise her.
- She wasn’t thriving in public school, but our Christian school was a 2 1/2 hr. drive from home and train connections were complicated, so she would need to stay the weekends too.
- When we finally asked God’s opinion, He told us to take her in M-F. I laid out our limitations, expectations and charges in a long e-mail, hoping we would sound too puritanical or be too expensive for them.
Are you worried? We were. Then they accepted our demands without hesitation and offered more money, thinking I hadn’t remembered to budget for food! But 2 weeks later, it’s all good! Olivia loves being a big sister. Oceane loves our cats, our house, our American food, and our school! And she is showing it. Weekend accommodations with other families have not been as successful, so we may just have to adopt her!
Big Worry#2: We had an Alsatian wedding invitation waiting for us in our stack of summer mail. How wonderful, except that:
- I was asked to help decorate the (dull) sanctuary 5 days in advance.
- I was in back-to-school teacher meetings all week and had my first English class to teach the day before the wedding.
- I was asked to work with a woman in the church who had very different tastes from mine and insisted that she could not pull it off without me.
- This was the bride’s 2nd marriage late in life. She had no ideas and a $100 budget.
- David was in Paris all week for the annual YWAM conference, so I had no shoulder to cry on.
I went to bed Monday night alone, worried how to keep my peace and save this woman’s important day. And then God gave me the simple idea to re-orient the room towards the side windows and make a canopy tent (owned by the school) the focal point instead of trying to beautify an ugly stage. Chuppah!
I floated through the rest of the week: On Tuesday, my co-worker agreed to my idea while she focused on the flowers and I ran into a party store and spent just $40 to dress up the tent and get a runner for the floor. On Thursday, I painted a banner to cover a bulletin board for guests to sign while waiting to pick David up at the train station late that night. On Friday, my first English class was a blast, and afterwards, we had the tent up and the sanctuary decorated in 4 hrs. time.
It got rave reviews. We returned the room to its original state in time to still catch the reception and then enjoyed 6 more hours of a 4-course meal interspersed with games and dancing with live folk musicians! It was a great way to celebrate our wedding anniversary this year! So who’s happy now?
I’ll save the rest of my grace-filled news for next month!
With Rachel and Noah graduating well in June, I decided to borrow this theme by recounting our summer trip back to the States graduation-style. Here’s a roll call of all those who made it possible for all 5 us to enjoy a vacation together of this length for the first time in 5 years. It was wonderful…
(Cue "Pomp and Circumstance") May we present…
David’s parents: for financing our airfare, arranging our deluxe accommodations in Indy, bringing our family together, and feeding us when we were too tired to feed ourselves!
D.J. C., Marguerite & Heinz W., the Garrys, Bread of Life church, and our regular supporters: for erasing financial pressure throughout our 6 weeks with their gifts.
Tom and Wendy L.: for generously loaning us their car for our road trip out west and hosting a warm reunion of David’s best friends in their home.
Debbie K.: for picking me up at the Denver airport, driving me to the missionary women’s retreat and treating me to lunch, while still recovering from cancer surgery. God bless her!
The Hundreds of Women behind the retreat: for making me feel so valued and honored with 4 days of worship, sharing, gifts, and pampering at a 4-star hotel.
Brian and Vanessa S.: for celebrating the 4th together while providing free Marriott lodging in Kansas for David and the kids.
Keith and Annie T.: for giving us their master bedroom, a gourmet dinner, hosting an open house for us, and a trip to Costco in Denver!
Mom and Dad: for helping finance the trip, letting us invade their house in NM, outfitting Rachel’s new house with cool stuff, and being super grandparents while we flew to CA.
Bethel Church: for creating an extraordinary atmosphere in Redding, CA for physical and marital healing!!
The Timkins: for providing 3 beautiful bedrooms and 2 delicious meals to us as strangers at the end of our road trip in St. Louis (through a missionary care organization.)
Don and Phyllis L.: for their heart for European missions shown by opening their home and lives to us in Indy for 3 whole weeks!
The Najmon Family: for a wonderful evening on their farm and for adopting Noah into their family for the coming year.
Goodwill: for providing "new" clothes for the whole family in a very pleasant atmosphere!
Bill and Katrina D.: for being intentional in getting to know each other over crab cakes on the reservoir!
Bread of Life Church: for embracing and supporting our family in so many special ways! Here’s to future partnerships!
Fred and Rosie F.: for buying lunch and bearing gifts, in anticipation of their next French class visit!
Wal-Mart: for 24/7 availability and providing quicker and cheaper eye and foot care for David and Olivia than in France!
Nancy F.: for giving up an evening to give us 3 free haircuts while catching up – we looked great for the wedding!
Jason and Brittany H.: for (inadvertently) scheduling their beautiful ceremony when we could all attend – this was the kids’ first family wedding and dancing all together during the reception was a highlight!
The Hanna Family: for coming to work at and bless our school, taking good care of our house and cats, and housing us in Wheaton for the wedding in return!
Steve H.: for great Chicago pizza and taking the time to share his life and career in Christian media with us!
Mike and Sarah M.: for a Le Peep breakfast, the scoop on Christian radio and catching up on 20 years!
My brother Brock and Cheri: for loaning us a car for 2 weeks and saving the day with an extra suitcase to get everything back to France!
David’s sister Jane and Rick: for organizing their lives around our visit and especially for welcoming Noah into their home for his freshman year. It was easier to say goodbye knowing that he is in good hands!
Ginna and Ed L.: for our final Cracker Barrel family moment together…
What can I say? God bless America! It was so refreshing to come and receive, getting filled up so that we can start giving out again when ministry life starts here in Sept. I want to especially thank our kids for making this a very joyous transition time for their mother!
The one thing that didn’t happen was finding new supporters to off-set a $450 monthly drop in giving. Do any of our readers feel led in joining us in our French adventure? If so, check out our Support page for details!
Back-to-school news next month!
Olivia and I just got back from an escapade in Paris and we have been humming La Vie en Rose ever since. It’s a great description of our wonderful spring – it’s been like looking through rose-colored glasses!
The last week of March, we welcomed Willemijn from Holland, (despite my vow to never host another exchange student in a previous newsletter!) She was delightful and along with her classmates, participated with our students in a fun run to raise money for the persecuted church. We raised over 3000 euros, which is amazing, considering our school struggles to pay the bills most months!
On the occasion of my 50th birthday, Jesus used all of my local friends and family (and even strangers!) in myriads of ways to show me how much I am loved. After leaving everything and everyone familiar 12 years ago, I have never felt so rich. This gives me immense hope as I look towards the future (and all the unknowns that come with aging!) Here are 7 of my girlfriends from our church who celebrated with me one day at my favorite restaurant in Germany followed by a long soak in the local thermal baths!
One birthday blessing was getting a call to help one of our students with English homework – my first paying job after getting certified to teach English! He’s a relatively motivated 14 yr. old boy who lives in our village, so it’s easy money!
Noah was also home for his spring break and we had a delightful 2 weeks together in beautiful weather, while Olivia and David were still at school all day. During our 4-day Easter weekend, we held a 6 hr. tabernacle on Good Friday to lift up Jesus as King over France at the onset of presidential elections and we invited Alana and Nadine over for my traditional leg of lamb meal on Sunday.
A few days later we picked up the Richards at the airport for their fifth 3-month stint with us. Janet and Nadine will be busy with sozo training seminars during this time. Right now our individual sessions revolve around just a few people whom we see every two weeks. The teen that we helped a year ago referred another teen to us who was barely functioning. After 4 sessions with us, having transferred to our school, and staying with a healthy host family during the week, she was able to attend a full week of school recently for the first time in years. She even participated in the fun run!
And that brings us to our own spring break and Paris. My old friend Corinne turned 50 two weeks after I did, and I hadn’t seen her since she her father’s funeral 18 months ago. She had sent me 20 roses and I wanted to take her to a gourmet restaurant run by YWAMers in the 19th arrondissement. She’s moving out of Paris this year, so I decided I should take Olivia along while we still had free lodging, since her last visit was 11 yrs ago on outreach from Scotland and she remembers nothing! La Vie en Rose was playing during our boat ride down the Canal St. Martin.
During that time, David drove to a prayer house near Lake Thun, Switzerland with the Richards and some of our youth worshippers to fill a few days with worshipful musical and artistic collaboration and prayer. Guess who came home exhausted and who came back refreshed!
Next week Olivia leaves for another class trip with her German teacher to visit Vienna and Berlin. So far, she is the only 11th grader enrolled for next year, so she may do independent study while her classmates go off to public school. Ah, the ups and downs of high school in Europe!
I had good reason to be silent last month – physical attacks on both of us plus an extreme cold snap turned us into moles for much of the month. It was almost painless with a boxful of new, used English books to dig into from the annual book swap at Black Forest Academy, until the end of the month when David and I both crawled out of our holes just in time to help make the French Christian teacher’s conference a success.
I was in on the food, of course, making 100 sack lunches to sell with Olivia’s class, raising money for their spring trip to Berlin. This photo gives you a vague idea of the setting and how many people are involved in Christian schools in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. (300ish) The main speaker was an American, so Olivia was asked to be her hostess during the conference and also pitched in with food service. David supervised the setting up and tearing down of the sound reinforcement from our church, to this rented hall, and back again.
So after getting over that mountain, the next one staring us down was planning our summer trip back to the U.S. It was time to buy the tickets, but the details were overwhelming us. We hadn’t been back as a family for 5 years, and the demands were much greater than when we visit individually. We needed house/cat sitters for 6 weeks and free private lodging to help us get through this extended family transition time (relating to Rachel on her own adult turf, battling random menopause symptoms, and returning without Noah!) We would also need a car of our own for a road trip to visit my parents and then a car for local use in Indy. I also desperately wanted some private spiritual retreat time in a comfortable place, as this does not exist here. Even though French retreat centers are located in beautiful isolated locations, they are obviously designed for the sole purpose of mortifying the flesh.
So we laid the whole thing on the altar, letting God put it together, or not, as He saw fit. We told Him that if He wanted us to go, we needed some details in place in order to decide on departure/return dates and we gave him a week to do it, nervously keeping an eye on ticket prices.
We are happy to report that our Father, in cooperation with His children, has gone above and beyond for us!
- That week, two families (that we trust!) contacted us, needing free lodging and a car in our area, perfectly timed during our absence!
- I had also "put out a fleece" by applying to attend a 4-day retreat for full-time cross-cultural North American missionary women at a luxury hotel in Denver. Because churches and fund-raisers subsidize most of the cost for the attendees, they only accept 100 applicants, you can only attend once in your lifetime, and there is always a waiting list. Free gifts, massages, haircuts, pedicures and counseling are part of the package. And guess what? I got the acceptance e-mail that same week and my parents covered my travel and fees as my 50th birthday gift! With those dates in stone, we were able to pinpoint a departure date.
- Then we sent out an e-mail about our car needs and found just the right one so the family can come pick me up in Denver, drive to NM, and then back to Indy via Texas. Rocky Mountain residents need to keep July 7-8th open and we’d love to see our friends in Texas while passing through!
- For our remaining 3 weeks in Indy, we were still waiting for God to provide the housing we needed, but we confidently bought our tickets, knowing that our Father would take care of this too. Since then, not just 1, but 2 wonderful options became available for us! And speaking of housing, my sister-in-law Jane has graciously agreed to keep Noah during his freshman year, so I’ll spend some of that time fixing up his future bedroom.
With Rachel and Noah both graduating from their respective schools on the same day on different continents, we are also planning a belated open house to celebrate and at last meet all of Rachel’s radical friends in person! Her last quarter of school has been a busy one as she has already started working part-time for a marketing firm, has a couple of freelance jobs on the side, and is part of a worship band that has just cut their first album!
Finally, here’s a quick snapshot of how God is also keeping our ministry visions moving forward here this spring, making mighty mountains out of our little molehills!
- Translation of the marriage course materials (mentioned in my Jan. newsletter) will happen, thanks to the French Swiss, making this event a real possibility for next fall, if travel schedules line up!
- Worship is growing! We sent 2 of our youth to a professional seminar for sound training and another group of youth attended a first-ever conference in Paris for raising up French youth in worship-leading. This weekend, our worship teams will be playing in another church’s first effort at a 12 hr. worship tabernacle. We heard that it was quite a battle for them to get it organized, so we know we are pushing the enemy’s buttons!
- The Sozo ministry is gaining momentum! My French teammate, Nadine, has just been named the national director for France – a necessary role as new teams start to sprout around the country. The team we are building in our church will travel together by train to get the advanced training from the Bethel leaders in May. If anyone is interested, I’d be honored to do sessions while in the U.S. – It’s so much more fun doing it in English!
Looking forward to April!
Our 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.
This 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 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.
I 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