ENvision

Roots ||Raeni

My parents gave me roots. Deep roots that held fast. They were a safe place to land. Most of my childhood was spent in the same house; a house my mother made glow at Christmas. Thanksgiving was marked by making Grandma’s stuffing, from a handwritten recipe that called for three walnuts.. Each year my dad and I would proceed to snitch bites of the raw stuffing until it made its way into the bird. Easter baskets came with a new spring outfit, family vacations and a house in the midst of a new remodeling project.
All these things were the dependable and constant parts of my life.
Living in small town America also added to this sense of feeling rooted. Things moved slowly. People know each other. A new person moving into the neighborhood is a marked moment in time. My classmates remained the same, there were very few changes to that group of 70. If you told me to line up alphabetically, I still remember the two people I stood between; because I stood between them for 13 years.
I am thankful for my roots. They have taught me what connection feels like. What I should value.
With my own daughters I want them to have roots. I want them to know what it feels like to be connected. Since roots are not natural in our life as overseas workers, I work to create roots for my girls. Traditions and things that say even though this a new location; I am home. We need roots to stand firm and make connections.
Currently I am in a time of transition. Transition is just tough for me, and this one is going to last a year. We are leaving our home to spend a required year in the USA. After that year I hope to return to our home but maybe… There is always that but maybe. These times of transition leave me feeling uprooted. I long to be settled. To know what is coming next. To rely on the constant. But there is no constant. Even if we return things will have changed. I know things have changed in America. My family has made memories I am not a part of. My community has moved on. I think in the midst of transition I feel these losses even more. It is hard to explain but I know that they are there, I know they are coming.
About three months ago God laid on my heart the word sojourner. Sojourner can be defined as – to stay for a time in a place; live temporarily. To be a stranger in a foreign land.
My humanness wants roots here. Roots that keep me secure here. But the reality is because of my faith in Christ no matter what I long for, my roots are not fully here. My roots are in heaven. To look for them on earth is pointless. I won’t find real roots here. Philippians 3:20 says “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.” In these times of transition, it becomes more and more apparent that I need to be adjusting my vision. My citizenship is not in America or in France, it is in heaven. Am I eagerly looking for my Savior? Am I preparing for his arrival? I am a sojourner, a stranger in a foreign land that is waiting to go home. My roots are stable, they are deep. They are sunk deep by the creator of the heavens and the earth. The creator who has the ability to bring the earth, the wind, and the waves under his control. So while I in the midst of this life of transition, I will grow my roots deep into the Creator and cling deeply to His promises.

May 18, 2016 | Posted by in ENvision, Uncategorised | 0 comments

Shutters

It’s always darkest before you open the shutters. I posted that on facebook to be snarky and funny.

I was wondering why it was so dark in our living room, looked up and saw the shutters closed.  I walked over and pushed the button to allow the electric motor to roll them up into their daytime hiding spot. As they slowly rolled upwards, light flooded into the room; bringing a freshness to the room that was needed and welcomed.

It started me thinking. What areas in my life is shuttered off? What area could use a bit of sunlight, freshness, or renewing?

Shutters have their place. They have their role. They protect windows from storms, they provide a barrier needed when things are rough and dark. In some ways they keep the warmth of the house inside. I have never before lived in a house with working shutters so they have taken me a bit of adjusting to get used to using them. Normally my family doesn’t shut them so that morning it was a surprise they were closed. I don’t remember shutting them last night. It was dark when I woke up this morning so I didn’t notice at first they were closed. But they were and the refreshing sunlight was being blocked from enter my house.  Paris doesn’t get sun that often in the winter and here I was blocking it out with shutters.

Are there relationships I have shuttered because of a storm? Are there emotions I have shuttered because they seem too dark to handle? Have I closed the shutters on opportunities for fear of failure? Has the storm passed in that area of my life and I need to allow the light of God’s word to penetrate deeper into that area?

I get the need for shutters. I understand that in this world we live in it is too hard to leave our lives completely open all the time. Too many people ready to take a shot at our weaknesses or to misuse our openness. But how many times have we left the shutters closed and missed out on life giving sunlight shining into our lives? Missed out on life giving relationships because we have shuttered our lives from those around us?

Life is relationships. We were not meant to live it alone and the most important relationship, the relationship that we were created to be in, that is the relationship we often shutter off the most. We do not trust that our Creator, our loving Heavenly Father who longs for a relationship with us; will not hurt us. We refuse to open the shutters to allow Him into all areas of our lives thinking, He will, in some way hurt us. Or maybe we don’t want to allow healing in an area of our lives. Maybe we have just forgotten we have closed the shutter to that area.

The sunlight warmed me up that morning as the shutters rolled up. You too can allow the light of Christ to warm the dark places in your life. Roll up those shutters.

What about you? Are there areas in your life that, for too long, have been closed off? Are there relationships that you have given up on for fear of pain? Are there areas in your life that have been closed off to the work of the Holy Spirit?

Let the light of God’s word bring healing, let the warmth of the Holy Spirit warm your heart.  Throw open the shutters.

Feb 5, 2015 | Posted by in ENvision | 3 comments

Boasting…..Raeni

Sparkle and glitter!

That is what I think makes up great art. My favorite art exhibit I have seen was at the Kohler Art Museum in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The moment I walked into the teeny tiny house I thought, this is art I get. Simply, a man known as the Rhinestone Cowboy, had covered every surface of his house in the construction paper and glitter that you find in a first grade classroom. Every surface!

Drop me in Paris several years later. I have seen beautiful art. I have seen in person so many of the classics that were presented to me in my required and much loathed fine arts class in college. Obviously art is not my thing. Today, on the top of my list of things to do – organizing an art show. All I can think – I am over my head on this one.

Next on my list, teaching. In February, Tony and I will start teaching people English as a way to form new relationships. One class is a low key conversational group with people who want to practice speaking and the other a class for beginners. Teaching… I am pretty sure that if I took a test of what your occupation should be it would say NEVER TEACH. Those words would be bold and underlined in the results. Yet here I go. Again, I feel the waves crashing over me knowing I am over my head.

Yesterday, I made Tony sit down and drink some coffee and write a list with me. Tony hates lists so bribing him with coffee is necessary. Usually, I am a list writer by nature, and he just finds my lists scattered around. For the past few days my head had been swirling and I was unable to move forward, I couldn’t even write a list, because I had so many things I was thinking about. I needed Tony to just listen and write down all the things I thought needed to be done. Slowly, as things got written down and some of my “must get dones” were passed off to him, the list doesn’t seem so long.

However, in my humanness, I look at some of the things on my list and think this is not what I am equipped for, not at all in my gift mix, not what I went to school for or even what I thought I would be doing in Paris.

Yet in this crazy awesome adventure, I know that I have God to rely on. I, like Paul in 2 Corinithians, will boast about my weakness. God’s grace is sufficient. He can use my weakness for His glory. I can not wait to see how this all turns out.

Jan 30, 2014 | Posted by in ENvision | 1 comment

They had been with Jesus…Tony

This morning I prayed for my daughters to be blessings at their schools. I prayed that the love of Christ would flow out from them and that people would see the person and spirit of Christ in them. It’s a prayer I pray often for them. And honestly I believe it to be a prayer that is being answered.

The Friday before Christmas, I took the girls into Paris to watch “La Reigne des Neiges” (Frozen) in the theater. As we walked onto the platform towards the front of the train so that it would be easier to get off at the end of the line, we encountered Fayth’s teacher from last year. She greeted us and we started a conversation that continued the whole 21 minute train ride,  about life, school, death, and Americans. She mentioned again how much she enjoyed having Fayth in her class and how nice in general Americans are here in Viroflay. Having met the other American she was referring to I know something about her, she also is a believer. She also has Christ in her the hope of glory. I know that Christ in people is not the only thing that makes people nice. In fact, sadly, I have met many not nice Christians. But what I believe people see in our daughters is Christ love pouring out to the people around them.

This morning I am reading through the book of Acts and come again to a verse I have taught on often and it really hit me again that is pattern for evangelism. Acts 4:13

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Did you catch it? At the end of Doctor Luke’s not so subtle insult of Peter and John. (Come on he called them back water country bumpkins.) They were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus. It didn’t change their status in society. But it sure made a difference in how they acted and what they said.

Here in France, education and position are important. Titles are something that hold weight. This was true in Peter and John’s time also. So the fact that while there were unschooled, ordinary men, they still astonished the wise and learned of their time. In the same way, Christ empowers us to work and minister, in spite of our perceived weaknesses and perhaps even through them.

That is one of the ways we encourage our interns and teams to live their time here, that is one of the things we want for our own lives. We want to spend time with Christ, so others will be able to see Christ in us.

So for us, how do people know if we have been with Jesus?

Are our actions different because of it?

Are we acting boldly to let people know of the power of God at work in our lives?

Or have we been with Jesus?

  • are we sitting at His feet and listening to His words?
  • Are we taking the time to meditate on who He is?

Are people amazed that God is at work in our lives?

Have you been with Jesus?

Jan 21, 2014 | Posted by in ENvision | 6 comments

It doesn’t make sense….Tony

I was reminded again last week that our plans and God’s plans are not always the same and that God’s plans do not always make sense to our finite minds. We had a few things planned and God had a few other things planned. A missed appointment turned into a great time of prayer. A planned downtime alone between meetings turned into great conversations with like minded people. A meeting delayed because of Raeni’s trip to the USA, turns to be a great launching point for the future of God’s work here.

It is sometimes little things like this that we miss out on as we try to make sense of our calling and ministry. I speak not only of our calling here to Paris but in general about all of our callings to follow Christ more fully. We often focus on what we missed out on instead on what was accomplished.

In on the above examples I had about an hour and a half in between meetings last Saturday. I planned to lock the door to the ministry center, walk around the corner and enjoy a nice cup of coffee while reading the paper. (it was my birthday I am allowed to do things like this.) As the meeting ended those who were there were in no hurry to leave. One was waiting for a ride, another finishing up and email and another just wanting to stay. I obliged their wants putting aside my large mocha for a conversation. And looking back. I am glad I did. The conversation was much better than chocolate flavored coffee and news.
I want to make the choice to focus on what I am doing instead of what I think I am missing out on.

Jan 14, 2014 | Posted by in ENvision | 4 comments

It doesn’t make sense….Tony

I was reminded again last week that our plans and God’s plans are not always the same and that God’s plans do not always make sense to our finite minds. We had a few things planned and God had a few other things planned. A missed appointment turned into a great time of prayer. A planned downtime alone between meetings turned into great conversations with like minded people. A meeting delayed because of Raeni’s trip to the USA, turns to be a great launching point for the future of God’s work here.

It is sometimes little things like this that we miss out on as we try to make sense of our calling and ministry. I speak not only of our calling here to Paris but in general about all of our callings to follow Christ more fully. We often focus on what we missed out on instead on what was accomplished.

In on the above examples I had about an hour and a half in between meetings last Saturday. I planned to lock the door to the ministry center, walk around the corner and enjoy a nice cup of coffee while reading the paper. (it was my birthday I am allowed to do things like this.) As the meeting ended those who were there were in no hurry to leave. One was waiting for a ride, another finishing up and email and another just wanting to stay. I obliged their wants putting aside my large mocha for a conversation. And looking back. I am glad I did. The conversation was much better than chocolate flavored coffee and news.
I want to make the choice to focus on what I am doing instead of what I think I am missing out on.

Jan 14, 2014 | Posted by in ENvision | 4 comments

Not Today…Raeni

Not today…that was my my initial thought Tuesday afternoon as I watched the oncoming train pull in on the track next to us, with its lights flashing. We have company coming tonight and we are already getting home much later than I was anticipating. I immediately start making a mental list of what must get done and checking my train app for alternative routes to get home.
Then as I watch train agents coming running to the platform red caution tape in hand and passengers slowly streaming from cars with confusion on their faces; I realize what happened. The train had just hit a person. The reality, it was probably not an accident, but an individual had just used the train to take their own life. This is the second time I have been riding a train when an event like this occurred at the station I was near.
We were on our way home from a meeting that we were really excited about. We were making an action plan on how and what we are going to do to reach out to this city and create new communities of faith. This excitement changes to desperation. We must share the hope of Jesus.

I can recite the statistics of how the French are as a whole one of the most depressed countries in the world, they take more antidepressants, and suicide rates are extremely high. Those things are true but when the reality of someone jumping in front of your train, it reminds you again of the urgency of the gospel. There is only one cure for this emptiness that they feel, and it does not come from man. The emptiness can only be filled by the hope that a relationship with Jesus will give them.
Will you fervently join us in prayer? First, for the people of France that their hearts and minds will be opened to looking in a new direction to fill the void that they feel. That they would look to Jesus Christ. Second, pray that God would show us people who are open to his message of the gospel.

Jan 9, 2014 | Posted by in ENvision | 1 comment

Not Today…Raeni

Not today…that was my my initial thought Tuesday afternoon as I watched the oncoming train pull in on the track next to us, with its lights flashing. We have company coming tonight and we are already getting home much later than I was anticipating. I immediately start making a mental list of what must get done and checking my train app for alternative routes to get home.
Then as I watch train agents coming running to the platform red caution tape in hand and passengers slowly streaming from cars with confusion on their faces; I realize what happened. The train had just hit a person. The reality, it was probably not an accident, but an individual had just used the train to take their own life. This is the second time I have been riding a train when an event like this occurred at the station I was near.
We were on our way home from a meeting that we were really excited about. We were making an action plan on how and what we are going to do to reach out to this city and create new communities of faith. This excitement changes to desperation. We must share the hope of Jesus.

I can recite the statistics of how the French are as a whole one of the most depressed countries in the world, they take more antidepressants, and suicide rates are extremely high. Those things are true but when the reality of someone jumping in front of your train, it reminds you again of the urgency of the gospel. There is only one cure for this emptiness that they feel, and it does not come from man. The emptiness can only be filled by the hope that a relationship with Jesus will give them.
Will you fervently join us in prayer? First, for the people of France that their hearts and minds will be opened to looking in a new direction to fill the void that they feel. That they would look to Jesus Christ. Second, pray that God would show us people who are open to his message of the gospel.

Jan 9, 2014 | Posted by in ENvision | 1 comment

Grandma Ruth

We don’t blog nearly as much as we should.

Today Raeni is processing through what it means to be on the other side of the world while her grandma prepares for heaven. Below is a letter she wrote for her mom to read to Grandma Ruth. As I read through it I had tears streaming down my face.

Would you pray for Raeni, her family, our girls and myself as we say good-bye to this amazing women with the heart of Christ? Thanks for reading.

The picture above is a picture of Ruth and Raeni’s mom.

Tony

 

Grandma Ruth,

I can’t be there to say goodbye but I want you to know how very much I love you. You have been a light and an example to our family as you fervently loved Jesus. We never saw your love for Him waver.

You were such an adventurer. Bring us treats and dolls from all over the world. You never blinked an eye at driving cross country with 1,2, or 3 little girls.

Do you remember the summer we went to arches national park and took the cruise to see Rainbow Bridge? I do. It still remains one of my favorite places on earth.

What about picking grapes to make raisins, going to the cattle farm, family reunions, letting us “play” the organ, playing crazy dice? All of those are special memories for me.

Or when I was really little we played some game for pennies with Sam and his sister? I really liked that one.

Sliding down the hill in front of our house in the winter or all those games of mini golf, all of those things to show us a good time.

Grandma thank you for being a prayer warrior. I know that God answers the prayers of the saints. I also know you lifted up many prayers on my behalf that He has answered. Thank you for loving Jesus so much that you wanted every person you knew to love Him too.

You are my example of fearlessly making known the mystery of the gospel..

Grandma will you pray for me that I will be fearless as you have been.

As you leave this earth to go and sing praises to your King in heaven, know I love you very much and I will see you there.

Love, Rainie (That is how Ruth spells her name.

Dec 9, 2013 | Posted by in ENvision | 0 comments

Grandma Ruth

We don’t blog nearly as much as we should.

Today Raeni is processing through what it means to be on the other side of the world while her grandma prepares for heaven. Below is a letter she wrote for her mom to read to Grandma Ruth. As I read through it I had tears streaming down my face.

Would you pray for Raeni, her family, our girls and myself as we say good-bye to this amazing women with the heart of Christ? Thanks for reading.

The picture above is a picture of Ruth and Raeni’s mom.

Tony

 

Grandma Ruth,

I can’t be there to say goodbye but I want you to know how very much I love you. You have been a light and an example to our family as you fervently loved Jesus. We never saw your love for Him waver.

You were such an adventurer. Bring us treats and dolls from all over the world. You never blinked an eye at driving cross country with 1,2, or 3 little girls.

Do you remember the summer we went to arches national park and took the cruise to see Rainbow Bridge? I do. It still remains one of my favorite places on earth.

What about picking grapes to make raisins, going to the cattle farm, family reunions, letting us “play” the organ, playing crazy dice? All of those are special memories for me.

Or when I was really little we played some game for pennies with Sam and his sister? I really liked that one.

Sliding down the hill in front of our house in the winter or all those games of mini golf, all of those things to show us a good time.

Grandma thank you for being a prayer warrior. I know that God answers the prayers of the saints. I also know you lifted up many prayers on my behalf that He has answered. Thank you for loving Jesus so much that you wanted every person you knew to love Him too.

You are my example of fearlessly making known the mystery of the gospel..

Grandma will you pray for me that I will be fearless as you have been.

As you leave this earth to go and sing praises to your King in heaven, know I love you very much and I will see you there.

Love, Rainie (That is how Ruth spells her name.

Dec 9, 2013 | Posted by in ENvision | 0 comments
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