Category Archives: faith

Filling the Spirit in Limoges

(And why, one wonders, is worshiping spelled with one ‘p,’ but shipping is spelled with two?)

But anyway, the end of March was blessed with a ladies’ retreat of the AECM community of churches, in French. I was privileged and delighted to be a part of this, and encouraged that I was able to participate and follow a significant percentage without the printed notes this time. It is wonderful to sing and worship with so many different Christian women from all parts of France.

Friends, some of whom I carpooled with.

Friends, some of whom I carpooled with.

Our group from the Toulouse area.

Our group from the Toulouse area.

Making a joyful noise to the Lord!

Making a joyful noise to the Lord!

Creating prayer calendars

Creating prayer calendars

Sunday lunch, after worshiping at the church in Limoge.

Sunday lunch, after worshiping at the church in Limoge.

Before returning to Toulouse, our carpool chose to make a visit to the ceramics museum. I get to add yet another museum to my list! I really need to make a page to collect my museum visits. I enjoy going back and remembering them.

The Museum of Limoges Porcelain, March 2014

The Museum of Limoges Porcelain, March 2014

My friend Dita in a porcelain sculpture outside the museum.

My friend Dita in a porcelain sculpture outside the museum.

The museum, decorated with enameling.

The museum, decorated with enameling.

Limoges is also known for its stained glass manufacture.

Limoges is also known for its stained glass manufacture.

More detail of the museum.

More detail of the museum.

One of many giant platters decorating the exterior wall.

One of many giant platters decorating the exterior wall.

You can see a few of my favorite displays here. Continue reading

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Interrupting the Tour of Italy…

to bring you a glimpse of my Ladies’ Retreat! Last weekend, our church organization sponsored a spiritual retreat for the French churches of South France with the theme of Free to Serve Him. Aside from an interest in the topic, I loved the idea of learning and worshiping alongside my sisters in Christ here. The one big hesitation I held was, well, it would be a French retreat in French. I’ve been working on this language for 10 months, but I still can’t say I speak it. One of my French friends who was attending, though, and who translates, offered to let me ride with her and the pastor’s wife, and she would make sure I understood the teaching. YES!

One of the joys of being a part of the family of God is that, where ever you go, regardless of cultural or language differences, the Holy Spirit in each of you is able to communicate a bond that transcends these barriers. Poor tribal women in the mountains of Mexico who know the Savior lit up at meeting a white, clueless English believer in Christ (and vice versa), and it is the same in France. I sang songs in French, whose lyrics I could only mostly comprehend, but some I knew in English, and what a joy! I prayed with women in French, and enjoyed 3-course French meals preceded by lovely songs that were benedictions, like we used to do in camp! And I was able to follow French Scripture readings in my English Bible.

Good food and conversation at a French retreat is a given, I guess.

Good food and conversation at a French retreat is a given, I guess.

We gather to practice a song for the host church's worship service Sunday. It was the French version of "Open My Eyes, Lord."

We gather to practice a song for the host church’s worship service Sunday. It was the French version of “Open My Eyes, Lord.”

And folks, the liberating grace and mercy of God is the same in every language! It was a first for the women of the region, and I pray it will double in size next year.

It was a mercy and a delight, though, to find that a third of the ladies in attendance, while speaking French for the retreat, were yet native English-speakers. And additionally, the matron who was caretaker of the retreat location was an  American missionary who had come to France long ago to minister to lovely French people. The world of the family of God is small indeed! I had an abundance of help with the material, and people who were ready to talk about Jesus in my own heart language, too. I did sometimes grow weary of all the foreign-ness. It is hard work and a constant alertness to focus on a foreign language, and it wasn’t just a few hours with French class. It was definitely a weekend that helped my language listening skills, though.

The location was a retreat in itself, too, though. Maubourguet is a quaint ville, and this building the retreat met at was right on the market square. Looking at the solid wall facade that faces the square, you’d never guess all the courtyard and home behind them.

The courtyard, with bedrooms, the kitchen, and a meeting room facing it.

The courtyard, with bedrooms, the kitchen, and a meeting room facing it.

This is a lovely canal that runs behind most of the building, and actually UNDER parts of it. Very cool, and the babble of the water was refreshing.

This is a lovely canal that runs behind most of the building, and actually UNDER parts of it. Very cool, and the babble of the water was refreshing.

I definitely hope I have the privilege of attending again next year!

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A Basket-less Easter

Yes, it’s true…this “supermom” broke a tradition of 22 years, and that’s if you don’t count the years of MY life from 1 through college. Our Easter had no. basket. No eggs with little symbols of the Resurrection Story either on or in them. I am thinking this might well mean I am overworked. Of course, a 13 and an 18 year old don’t necessarily need a basket of surprises in the morning, but it definitely leaves one feeling thought-of.

We were not entirely without thought, though. I had on the kitchen table for my daughter a pineapple cupcake mix to do together, and Reester bunnies. And for my son, a terra cotta bowl with the makings of a Resurrection Garden. (And a little Reester bunny. After all, Jesus can hardly be worshiped without chocolate.) The Easter garden turned out to be a good substitute for a basket, and better for time spent together.

the stone is rolled away!

 

but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

 

He is risen!

 

The deviled eggs were just for fun, a Pinterest find.

It was a good Easter, all things considered. I mean, really, Easter can’t help but be good, no matter what, because it’s the Good News!

 

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The Palpable Presence of God

Back to my awesome weekend BSF retreat…

The overall theme was “Eradicating Biblical Poverty.” We studied II Timothy together, noting how Paul mentored Timothy. It was a very encouraging study, but the breakout sessions (a first for a BSF retreat) felt most useful, leaving me with practical, immediate things I could DO. My favorite experience was at the breakout on emergency prayer. According to the speaker, the second part of an emergency prayer is to bring God in; refocus the person on the Person. She called for us to call out character traits of God that we could lift up in praise in a hypothetical situation. Words rose like graceful bubbles all throughout the room, thicker and faster…sovereign…all-knowing…compassionate, ever-present, merciful. And as the praise filled the room, the atmosphere grew thicker, and a weight of comfort and peace pressed in upon me. And then she stopped us.

“Do you feel it?” she asked. “Do you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit?” And I did, of course, but I was in awe. I had never had someone else publicly acknowledge the corporate, palpable Presence of God. It was so affirming and exciting to realize that all Believers in that room experienced the same thing I did! And empowering to also realize that in praising God for who He is in a crisis situation, I can usher the calming Presence of our Savior into the storm that has captured the attention of the person in crisis.

I am so grateful for that one session at retreat. That one alone I have had the opportunity to practice a number of times already. What a blessing it was!

 

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The Lover of My Soul

Last weekend I got away from uber-busy life with a bunch of women from my Bible Study Fellowship leader group. I worried it was time I couldn’t spare, really, even though this would knock out another 50 Before 50. I had gotten to where I almost didn’t want to go, leaving my family I don’t see enough of, and my to-do list I make so little progress on. So, recognizing this attitude problem, I began, the week before, asking God each day to refresh me on this retreat. How He did this, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, didn’t matter, just so long as PLEASE would He refresh me? Well, the response left me breathless, and feeling just a bit like He had just been waiting in anticipation to do just that!

Arriving at the Hyatt, I unpacked and realized two things: my late night packing job had left me short a blouse, and my lipstick bag with lip balm for my already painfully chapped lips was missing. Ah well, my mind was on other things. I was desperate for a hair makeover. I had originally thought to grow out my curly graying locks for an updo for the wedding in June, but realize now what a mistake that was. Every time I walked past a mirror at work (and my department store has LOTS of mirrors), I couldn’t help feeling frumpy and droopy and old. So with the couple of hours downtime I’ve got before the retreat started, I decided to see if I could get a walk-in haircut. Surely there’s a Great Clips or something nearby? A directory showed an Aveda Institute (the school!) downtown, so I called and said a prayer. “Might you have an opening before 4?” asked at 2:10. They said they had had a cancellation of a 3:00! I can do 3! What a relief! I went walking, and lo and behold, this school was just across the street and around the corner, so I got there 20 minutes early. And what did I see next door, but a TJMaxx. Well, I had time for a quick browse. And hit PAYDIRT! in the form a of a lovely Cable and Gauge blouse for cheap! Unexpected top shortage alleviated.

I showed up at Aveda right on the dot, and the sweet girl who seated me informed me that a cut begins with a scalp massage with scented oil. Oh my! It was awesome, with refreshing peppermint, and right then I knew God was telling me He was taking care of me. The cut turned out really cute, but at the end, the girl said that as a thank you for using their services, I get a little dollop of lip gloss of my color choice. I couldn’t believe it!! It was like God overlooked NO tiny detail. And the whole experience was $18. You can believe I tipped WELL. I nearly cried, I felt so loved. God knew my needs, and me, and how to truly refresh me. I felt not only ready to receive all that He wanted to give me spiritually for the weekend, I was eagerly expectant!

And the public art in Denver is quirky and prolific. It was fun just to watch for it, no museum necessary. Take the Convention Center, for example:

Isn’t he cute? I’ll share more about the retreat itself in future, but for now, just know my prayer was answered. I am loved, and I was definitely refreshed!

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How Big?

Summer vacation 2009

How big will God choose to be in my summer art? The summer begins in earnest today, the day after Memorial Day, and I haven’t received any contacts regarding the summer art. I had multiple parents ask me please to offer summer art, and so I put together a program and sent out brochures. It will begin in less than three weeks. Younger students will create puppets and a puppet play and perform it at a senior center. Older students will create messy garden art I would never dare try at school.

IF.

IF parents follow through and sign up. And the things is, there is potential for a relatively huge response. If God were to make summer art really big, I could finish paying next year’s school tuition by the first day of July. So, knowing the reliability of KidMail, I am printing postcards reminding parents to register. I will address and mail these today. And I will pray and wait to see what God does with summer art.

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How Art History Teaches Peace on Earth

I really enjoy sharing the lessons the Lord is teaching me with others. Not only am I excited to tell folks what God is doing for me, but often I find they are lessons other people are learning or hope to experience themselves! Last night I was blessed to share with ladies from my church at our annual Ladies’ Ministry Christmas party. I love this event! It is always so warm and God-honoring! No sniping, gossipping ladies at any of these I have ever attended. What God is teaching me was well-received, so I thought I would post it here, not in small part to simply record for myself what God is doing for me. Consider this my little pile of altar stones. Continue reading

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Full Beardiness

My husband is praying and growing a beard in sympathy with our pastor, not to be shaved until the return from Uganda of his wife with his newly adopted daughter, Mercy. They are calling these Mercy beards. I am really enjoying this brief return to a beard for Stoney. I think he’s aDORable!! (And follow Mercy’s story on http://www.roadtomercy.blogspot.com/).

full frontal Mercy beard

side view Mercy beard (ain't he cute?)

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Give Thanks to the Lord

Today I led fifth and sixth grades to count their blessings through this project:

Thankful Words Turkey

After a discussion of ways we can change value without actually changing color, I gave them a turkey template to work from. They had several Bible verses to choose from to create their turkey body, and then were to brainstorm things for which they were thankful, and those were to become the feathers. Some students got the concept of using letters to create shape and value more than others, but I think everyone benefitted from having to list so many things they could be thankful for.

I like their turkeys, but in this case, I really like MY turkey. I loved meditating on these verses and filling his tail feathers with gratefulness. It really made want to make another, different one! I am truly blessed. My husband and children love me. In fact, my husband is still IN love with me. That alone is  HUGE. I have a beloved friend who understands me and is often only a phone call away for a chat. My church is a true Bible-believing church that rests on prayer. My pastor and his wife are people I deeply admire and respect. I get to help shepherd some amazing young adults in Sunday School. My son attends a school where the adults PRAY for him, regularly. As challenging as he is, I believe they still care for him. And wonder of wonders, I not only am allowed to teach at this same school, they actually pay me for it! And amazingly, parents seem to be pleased with what I do with the kids. And I get hugs! I shepherd a group of inspiring older women in Bible Study Fellowship. And my car is SO CUTE and got its dents fixed, so it’s all new again. And it still isn’t too cold up here! I am just overflowing with things to thank God for, but my favorite is this passage from Isaiah that we studied this past week:

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you!”  Isaiah 12:4-6

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Happy Reformation Day!

I want to be reformed. In the sense that I want to be made more like Christ. I have a tendency to get real lazy and stagnate in my current iteration. But if there is one thing I have learned in the past 45 years, it is that what doesn’t grow, decays. I really do want to be relevant to God and His purposes, though, and that is what I am looking at in me right now. Am I willing to make ANY change God asks of me? Am I willing to make any effort God asks of me? I hope so. I pray God would make me able. One thing I am examining in light of reformation is art. I approach each class prayerfully, and I know that is necessary. But what else can I do? Can this have outreach uses, ministry uses? Am I really helping God show each child their precious value even now?

And completely unrelated, I think I am finished with my koi. I keep looking at it and considering the addition of one more leaf group at the top. It still feels a little unbalanced to me. I’m also considering darkening my leaf shadows. We’ll see; no one says I can’t start it up again!

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