For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth. Colossians 1:16

Friday, May 25, 2012

I love hymns.  Seriously, hymns are the best.  For every situation, there is a hymn that could eloquently say what you are going through.  One of my favorite hymns is Thanks to God which reminds me of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  Thanks to God captures that instruction so beautifully. 

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

It is just so beautiful!  The hymn that has been on my heart and in my mind is Blessed Assurance.  (You should listen to it.)  I have been so overwhelmed by the way God has been providing through people to bring together everything for me to return to France.  Financially, I should be able to apply for my visa soon, and then return to my beloved brothers and sisters in France.  God has been so faithful and so patient with me in my frustrations.  In no way have I been completely accepting of God's plans, but I have found that-as the Bible has been saying for hundreds of years-when I am trusting in God, He is faithful and provides.

Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Five months ago, I graduated college with the intention of being in France in March.  As I am still here Stateside, it's obvious that things didn't go as I had planned.  This isn't really anything new though; my timing is not always God's timing, and His timing is perfect.  Every moment that I have spent here has been a blessing, even if I haven't seen it.  I'll be honest, I have been frustrated, but those frustrations don't last long, all thanks to God's timing.

Every time that I have been discouraged, God has shown Himself in so many clear ways.  For the most part, I've been a pretty hopeful person in my life.  I mean, yes, high school was rather dramatic, but that's the teenage way, right?  A few weeks ago, I started thinking more in reality than in hope.  What does that mean?  Let me tell you.  According to my plan, I was going to be in St. Etienne from the spring of 2012 through the summer of 2013.  I told my supporters that I will be there through August of 2013, and they agreed to support me through that month.  My plan looked great on paper, but it wasn't coming to reality.  Since my plan wasn't working, I started thinking "Maybe this isn't what God wants me to do.  Maybe I've been wrong this whole time."  I e-mailed my contact at CrossWorld and asked if I need to have an end date to fundraising and if the money isn't in, then that's that.  I won't go to France.  The next day, when I checked my account, $300 more came in.  In my weekly e-mails last week and this week, I explained that 37% of the monthly support had been pledged (so, no more between the two Tuesdays) and not much had come in for the outgoing expenses either.  Well, that night when I checked my account, the numbers had jumped up by about $1,100.  A number of people made contributions and one family alone had given $1,000! 

One of the things that I love about the French is how relational they are.  A friend whom I had met in France explained to me "If you say you're going to hang out with someone, that means you clear your whole day for them."  Here in the States, "hanging out" means getting coffee or talking for about an hour at most.  I've never been that great at being in a group of people.  Talking with more than two people at any given time makes me uncomfortable and I just don't know what to say or do.  Not to mention, talking for half an hour-as great as that can be-often does not allow for actually talking about struggles, plans, or at least, more than just the highlights.  Over there though, if you go out for coffee, you sit for hours, discuss ideas, and just spend legitimate time with each other.  That is one of my favorite things.  Another little nudge from God telling me "Don't worry.  This is right."

Monday, May 14, 2012

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast; seriously, absolutely everything is acceptable at breakfast!  You want chocolate?  Chocolate chip pancakes or waffles.  You want steak? Steak and eggs (you can also even have hamburger!)  Potatoes?  Hash browns.  Cake?  Come on.  A chocolate muffin IS cake.  You can have truly anything for breakfast, and it is perfectly acceptable. 
When I was in France last time, my church had a retreat in the Alps.  There was a time for worship, sessions with different speakers, a hike out through the mountains, and all kinds of wonderful things.  For breakfast that weekend (and really, every morning I was in France), there was bread with butter, jam, Nutella, cheese, and bowls of coffee.  Every Friday that semester, I would get up early, walk down to my favorite boulangerie, and pick up a few pain au chocolat for myself and a few friends.  I would have done that everyday, but I figured it would get rather expensive throughout the course of the semester. 
During fall break, I went to Sweden, northern England, and Ireland.  It probably was my favorite trip I've taken.  In Sweden, my dear friends Linnea and Richard took good care of us, and provided us with delicious food.  Breakfast was (one of my favorites) granola with fruit and yogurt.  I don't know what it is about the Swedes, but they know how to make fabulously delicious granola. 
This morning, I made puffins for the family.  What are puffins, you ask?  PANCAKE MUFFINS.  Yes, someone finally figured out the best way to have pancakes on the go.  I made a few cinnamon sugar puffins, some chocolate chip, and some with crumbled bacon.  It's just so much fun to cook for other people, and I can't wait to be back in France and share in table fellowship with more wonderful people.

Monday, May 7, 2012

I have always loved words: quotes, word art, songs, anything made up of letters.  I have a board on Pinterest that's dedicated to quotes, and I found myself looking at those marvelous words today.  It turns out some of the best quotes I've ever heard about how to live life have come from Audrey Hepburn.  But the quotes I have found that make the most sense to me and truly explain thing that seem impossible to understand have come from children's authors and C.S. Lewis.

If adults read kids books and actually took the words to heart, the world might be on the road to repair.  Seriously, if each person had a cause they cared about and devoted their lives to it, it might just come to reality.  The same to say about that Cat in the Hat reference.  "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."  This isn't to say that everything that passes through your mind is meant to be spoken.  But rather, if someone is going to mock you for something you are about or believe in, then they don't matter. 

On my first day of class in France, we went around the room and said our majors.  When I said that I was a Biblical Studies major, my professor said "Studies?  Plural?" and for the next few weeks we would tease me about being a Christian and the absurdity that was, in fact, Christianity.  I was upset about this at first, but when I told my good friend, Nick, about this, he said "Abby, you're being mocked for Jesus?  That's AWESOME."  He was right, and after that, it didn't bother me so much that my professor called me "the religion expert" and asked me to explain what a resurrection was-which caused my classmates to laugh.  Eventually, he realized I wasn't as stupid as he thought Christians were, and the mocking subsided.  I loved my time in France, and I can't wait to go back.


Words to live by