March 27, 2012
So three months ago tonight we were boarding a flight in Chicago that would take us to our new home in France. At that moment we had no idea to expect. We didn’t know what our new home would look like, we didn’t know anything about our new community, and I can honestly say I only knew about 10 words in French (all of them pronounced badly). So three months later, what do we know?
We now know what our apartment looks like. It even has family pictures and a few decorations that make it feel like our home. We know a little about the city of Massy. Which bakery is the best, where to find popcorn and as of today that baking soda is bought at the pharmacy. We even know a little about Paris, as we have seen the highlights. I have a growing desire to learn French history so I will understand why there are so many parks and bus stops named George Brassen. My French has increased exponentially in what I can read and hear. The 10 words I knew I can now pronounce with a good degree of accuracy. Currently, if you were to share a meal with us it would be a strange mix of English and French. We all grab the first word that comes to mind, sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn’t.
Other things I have learned – language school is the most challenging thing I have ever done on an academic level. Nothing at all like the expectations that I had. It is non-stop – French never leaves us. Even in our apartment, especially now that it is spring and our windows are open, French is heard regularly. My Minnesota “o” does not mix with French language; in fact they are in direct odds with each other. Which makes speaking in school difficult as they often say, “repetez, s’il vous plait”.
I have learned that I have awesome kids. While this transition has not always bought out the best in them, they are embracing it. I have seen both the girls make huge strides in their character. Hannah is becoming bold and brave. Fayth is growing and becoming more tolerant of change and differences.
Spiritually I have learned that God meets us right where we are at. For me right now God teaches me in the most simple of ways. My brain is too goobbled up with language, finding the words to buy a baguette, or what type of crème fraiche I want, or what did the red sign in the elevator with the exclamation point mean, to teach me anything to complicated. Two of the most profound spiritual moments in my life in the past 3 months have not come during my personal quiet time but in the 15 minutes our family spends doing devotions together before school. Lesson #1 came on the first day of school. That morning God gave us Isaiah 40:28-31 (NIV).
28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. 30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall; 31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
That morning it was exactly what I needed and it has been what I have needed over and over as life here is often overwhelming. I can say with confidence that my God has provided strength and power. When I fall which I do often here – He lifts me. My hope is in God and I will soar on wings like eagles.
Lesson number 2 He gave me this morning. As I have mentioned language school is DIFFICULT. My attitude about language school is not always great. Many mornings I groan about going to school and then after lunch I groan about going back. I can always think of something I would rather do. My attitude has continued to get worse and worse. This morning, again during our very simple family devotions, the lesson was on the jobs that God gives you. The last statement hit me, and of course as any good mother would do I related it to the job my daughters have to do of obeying their parents. As I was lecturing them in finding joy in their job I realized I was not finding joy in my job, language school. Here is the statement, “You know, we Christians often complain about the tasks the Lord gives us, as though he were punishing us. But, if we really believe that he loves us, we’ll accept those tasks as privileges instead of punishment (The One Year Devotion Book for Kids, March 27).” It is true I was acting as if language school was a punishment, I was grumbling and complaining, thinking about ways to get out of going to school. Today I change my attitude – language school is a gift. I leave you these verses from James 1:2-4 (The Message).
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.