October 2010

As you have prayed, God is slowly, but steadily enabling us to absorb French. Slick has been increasingly appreciating how God has uniquely maintained his language skills: by placing in him a tendency to blurt out phrases in French rather than English throughout the 30 years since his last formal language class. Donna, too, has benefited from how God wired Slick to do this.

Nor has Zoe been immune to God’s influence. She has grown an affinity for one book in particular. Though I (Donna) prefer to save it for bedtime reading, her insistence has influenced me to release it to her explorative fingers more often during the day. In a unique way, though, it is an answer to our prayers for her, that she so desires her children’s picture Bible! 🙂

We appreciate His response to your prayers – even in little details such as like these and we would appreciate your continued prayers for absorbent minds, humility and endurance: not only does language sometimes come far more slowly than we’d like, but we’ll also be running a marathon on the last day of this October – the 2500th anniversary of the original marathon, run on the original course.

The Bema in ancient Corinth where the tribunal likely met when Gallio dismissed Paul in Acts 18:11-17

The first block of language school is over already. We’re on break for the next two weeks, and on our way to Greece for the marathon.

God has used the speed bumps inherent in moving to a new country to grow us as individuals and as a family. But it has been very encouraging and promising to see Him use us in the interactions we have with other families here. Whether discussing spiritual warfare from a biblical and practical perspective with families who have lived it and will live it again in Africa, addressing some hard theological questions, or just walking alongside folks as we all take one more step down the road, there is nothing more rewarding than waching God work in the souls of men.

Snow now covers the mountains ridges and frost reaches its icy fingers down the slopes closer to town. Below the white, autumn colors are in full swing. The heat is on in the apartment and tea is in high demand inside our cozy home as Zoe toddles tirelessly from room to room. The challenges of transition have resolved into a wonderful peace that brings to mind a line from the Song of Solomon: I am my beloved’s and He is mine (6:3). After the rain, He truly does shower with blessing those whom He loves.

Looking between the buildings at the French School (CEF) up into the local hills

The birds a singing as I sit by our flat’s eastern window, gazing at a medieval city and reflecting. Once upon a time, I was so concerned about what people thought of me that I’d do almost anything to make sure they approved. Yet I considered myself humble because I didn’t think or talk highly of myself.

As I watch low clouds encroach on the walls of Conflans, I ponder what those walls might have witnessed in their thousand years of guard duty. And it seems to me that God places lessons of life all around me, if I look.

I know nothing of the young lovers who must’ve walked hand-in-hand those walls down through all those centuries. Why on Earth should I think my life is more significant than theirs, that it matters what people think of me? Time itself teaches me my insignificance.

Only Jesus shows me my significance, in purchasing my life with His own. Who knows? Perhaps one of those lovers basking in the view of this alpine valley, met Jesus and showed her children who He was. Perhaps they embraced Him then passed on their knowledge of Him to others who passed it on, and the cycle repeated through four thousand generations, until it reached me. The only thing of that young lover’s life that lasted, then, was Jesus in her – her faith.

Even time teaches me my proper place of true humility*: Jesus in me, my faith, is the one thing that might last. So I wonder, what am I doing to live it, and to pass it on? And why do I waste time worrying about what “they” think of me, who will disappear into history in just two or three generations?

Albertville from Conflans. Our house is visible on the far side of the valley.

*It has been said that humility is not thinking little of oneself, but rather, not thinking of oneself at all.

We laid out a blanket on the hills and valleys of white sand on beach outside Marseilles, anchoring the corners with shoes and backpacks. But the moment 13-month-old Zoe hit the beach, she was water-bound. Sand proved too difficult to walk on just yet, so she flopped gracelessly to all fours and continued her beeline toward the surf.

At first we let her go in only as deep as her thighs, but as the afternoon with our friends the Faulkes wore on, we relented to her curiosity and Zoe eventually experienced the shock of cold waves smacking her belly. Her favorite activity, however, was simply picking up handfuls of sand and letting it slide through her fingers. Close behind that was smashing the sandcastles Simon, Lee Ann and their girls made with buckets.

Years ago I (Donna) remember commiserating with my sister that it always seemed that we were waiting for “life” to begin, whatever “life” really was. It just seemed to elude us. Several times since Zoe was born I’ve observed that I emphatically no longer feel that way. In some ways more lives than just Zoe’s began when she was born.

And as difficult as it may be to have heart-level, soul-encouraging conversations with our friends when children’s laughter rings in the air, the children truly are a special smile from God. So what if we adults lose a little sleep to post-bed time fellowship? Wading into that depth of sharing happens more easily in those late hours and refreshes the soul even more than sleep.

"Further, Mommy! Further!"