Do some seasons of life cause an involuntary reflex action from you? Call me weird, but for some reason when there is excessive change surrounding my life I seem to take comfort in rearranging the furniture! John will the leave the house and come back wondering what in the world is going on as the entire livingroom is no longer the same in any fashion!
Change. One word - yet a myriad of feelings (& actions) are brought to the surface on any given day.
In every international church planting ministry, “change” is a constant reality as people come for short stints of time abroad for either work or study. Our church is able to greet these newcomers, welcome them into our lives and help serve them in their spiritual needs - all the while pointing them to Christ who is the One that molds people into His image.
It has been the joy of our lives to minister to so many people from around the world these past 12 years! Truly… the joy of our lives! Think of it: You are having an open prayer time within the church service and people will begin praying in their mother tongue - praising the God who is worthy! Or during the coffee time, before and after service, you overhear people speaking to one another in their native language, encouraging each other as they seek to live well in another culture. And then on a totally selfish level, think of what a church potluck dinner looks like! The table is laden with a plethora of delicacies to sample from around the world! It puts a smile on my face every time. ;)
As the years have passed, we as a family have enjoyed ministering together at the International Chapel of Montpellier. Our children were 15, 12 & 8 when they arrived in France back in 2004. However, 2017 proves to be the year where “change” will even occur within our walls, as the kids will all now leave France and the ministry here and minister where God has called them around the world.
“Change.” One of my good friends once told me when the winds are swirling around you, stand still. Don’t react, just wait. I have found this excellent advice throughout the years as pastoral ministry can be difficult at times. I also find that in the midst of the storm winds, my eyes need to be looking up - up into the eyes of my never-changing Father. It is here in the eye of the storm called “change” that I can find rest, peace & joy. Even if outside my doors chaos is causing instability all around me, I can still have total joy and peace knowing there is One who will NOT be changing today OR tomorrow. He will NOT be moving, but will always be there to surround me with His constant love.
So as we look forward to 2017 and the winds of “change” swirl around us from all sides, pray that John and I would be continually looking into the eyes of Jesus, who is “the same yesterday and today and forever” so that we can continue to spread His message of hope to the nations.
Until that day when I meet my Lord face to face, it might be time for me to rearrange some more furniture. You don’t happen to need any help moving some around, do you? ;)
Tradition… tradition! (cue the “Fiddler on the Roof” music)
No matter where you live or what family you live in, traditions will always be present. Having spent the past 12 years in southern France, we have had the opportunity of observing and participating in a host of events that help mark time in our part of the world. As we come into the Christmas season, I thought I would open our door and allow you to peek into an area tradition that we wholeheartedly embrace & enjoy.
In France, Christmas dinner is served on December 24 (Le Réveillon de Noël) and is a tradition in and of itself. It will last for hours into the night, providing the hostess an opportunity to display her delicious specialities for the entire family to see. However here in the South, the long meal is followed by the observance of serving a variety of 13 desserts, which symbolizes Christ and His 12 disciples. That’s right… count them…. Thirteen desserts to choose from. These desserts will be a mixture of nuts, berries, nougat, pastries with the capstone piece being the “bûche de Noël.
But amongst these 13 desserts, there is one that always captures John’s and my attention. It is not the flashy mousses or pastries that do us in. No, its happens to be the unpretentious chocolate disk called the “mendiant.” This little chocolate delight’s origins go all the way back to the Middle Ages where it represented the various monastic orders and the colored robes the monks would wear. Here where we live, one will normally see an almond, a hazelnut and a pistachio on the top of this delicious disk. Interestingly, the translation for “mendiant” in English is “beggar.” The monks would live a charity-based life and this traditional morsel has lived on throughout the generations, representing their life choice.
For me, as I gladly take part in embracing this yearly tradition of buying the Christmas mediant, I sometimes think that I too, am like a beggar - humbly sitting & watching as another Christmas goes by and thinking of my God’s generous love for me. He left the throne room of heaven to come here to earth as a baby, so that one day we could live for all of eternity in His presence. Yes, I will gladly relate to the analogy of this mendiant or beggar who freely & wholeheartedly rushes to the Father’s feet to receive His mercy and grace. In fact, that's the whole point of the entire Christmas story - our desperate need & our Savior's lavish love.
So as I sit sipping my afternoon coffee & finishing off my Christmas mendiant I think, “Traditions are never out-of-date or even boring when they involve spiritual reflection & chocolate!”
Wife, mother, teacher & friend who loves to "do life" alongside others as we journey together in seeking to know God more fully and deeply. Feel free to join with us as walk through a few "French fields" ...
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