Sunday, February 26, 2012

Daybook: The 'We Survived our First Month in France" Edition

:Outside my window... Sunny and 52 F.  Warm enough after church that I didn't feel the need to put on my overcoat to walk home.  Spring is coming...

::Listening to... Kids entertaining themselves.  Loudly, in the other room.  I love how they are friends with each other and make up all kinds of crazy stuff to do.

::Giving thanks for... Fellowship and encouragement this week.  Last week I was feeling really discouraged because I was feeling like it was taking too long to get connected in our church and in the French community in general.   While I wouldn't say we've made a TON of progress with that specifically this week, God ordained several opportunties for fellowship with some of our missionary colleagues this week - one conversation with someone in the hallway at school, a playdate with another, and a ladies night last night - which blessed my heart, and gave me the encouragement I needed to keep on keeping on in this new and very different environment.

::Pondering... So, I still can't understand 80% of what is going on in a French church service, but I understood enough today to be convicted that I have been depending far too much on my own strength and not enough on His.  I can do no good thing on my own.  All is through His strength and for His glory.  Lord Jesus, help me to remember this as we jump back on the roller coaster this week.

::Living the Educational Life... You can see our 2 week school update here.  We've made it through our first 4 week term!  Balancing Michelle's school with mine has been challenging, but if nothing else it is helping me to be more focused in my time management.

::Preparing in the Kitchen... Okay, so this isn't going to turn into a food blog anytime soon, but we have frequently been asked what we eat when we're overseas.  So, for those who are interested, here is a week's worth of dinners from my French Kitchen:
      Monday: Chili (crockpot) served over rice with crushed corn chips, cheese, and creme fraiche
      Tuesday: Curried winter squash soup (squash purchased at our market, not sure exactly what variety it was), salad, bread from the boulangerie across the road
       Wednesday: Coconut Ginger Chicken (crockpot) over rice
       Thursday: Spaghetti (crockpot), salad, bread
       Friday: Roasted winter veggies with chicken topped with creme fraiche, bread, green bean salad 
       Saturday: Dan and the kiddos had leftovers, I went to a ladies' night out and had homemade pizza and too many cookies. =)
       Sunday: Roasted vegetable (zuchinni, tomatoes, onions, and mushroom) ravioli, bread

::Following These Links... Love the narration ideas here.   These cookies were super simple and super tasty.  Thinking we may try this as our nature study project this week.

::Turning Pages...I finally finished North and South.  Haven't started anything new yet. Sometimes after reading a really good book that I really connected with, it's hard to pick up something new.

::Finding Rhythm... Given that the season of Lent has started, I set out our Lenten Lights display this week. 

We don't really observe Lent in the same sense as those in a liturgical church do, but more as a way of preparing our hearts for Easter.  Several years ago I was convicted that we put far too much time and effort into our celebration of the Advent/Christmas season, and not enough into Easter...but really, isn't the death and resurection of Christ the central point about which our whole faith turns?  So, we've been working on bringing our celebrations of Christmas and Easter into more equal proportions to each other over the past several years.  As I set out this display yesterday, I realized this is the 4th consecutive year we've spent Easter in a different country.  2009 we were "at home" in Papua New Guinea, 2010 found us in Australia for the birth of Elizabeth, 2011 in the USA for furlough, and now here we are in France.  Lord willing by this time next year we'll be in Africa.  Kinda crazy, huh?   But at the same time, I found it kind of comforting to set out these same things - well, new candles purchased locally - but the paintings on the easel and the fabric runner laid underneath it all - in a new place.  Some things stay the same no matter where we go and what we do.  So very grateful for the underlying rhythm to our year even when the daily rhythm is rather offbeat.

::Kiddos this week...  So, when I came home Thursday evening, I came home to a special treat and a love note from my sweet hubby for our 9-years-dating-anniversary. (Yes, we celebrate our dating anniversary.)  While he was writing his note that afternoon, Michelle deceided she needed to get in on the letter-writing action too.   Her sweet letter read: "Love mama.  I miss you when you are at school.  I have a little something for you a special treat for you. I know you like that it is a stash for you. I know you would like it."   Melted my heart.  (If you are a FB friend, you can see a photo of the original over there.)

::Praying... For wisdom in evaluating my priorities and using my time well, and senstivity to the Lord's guidance as I go through each day. And that we will be able to make some French friends, so we will have more opportunities to practice speaking French outside of our class times.

::Planning the week ahead... This is our off week for Michelle's school, so I'm hoping to have time to catch up on some things like our finance database and other correspondence.  (I know, I have a fantastically exciting life, don't I?). And planning for our next 4 week term.  And really, truly, maybe (??) we'll get to the library this week?

::Capturing a few moments... Reason Number 426 that I love the location of our apartment: we were right along the route of the Carnaval (think small-town Mardi Gras) parade yesterday afternoon and the kids were able to watch the whole shebang from the window. No coats, no shoes, no crowds.  (I sat back and drank a cup of coffee.)

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