Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Knight in Shining Armor

So, I've been just a bit more America-sick than usual lately.

It's mid-July, definately camp season. This is the first year since I decided to live for Jesus that I've missed camp. I never thought this day would come. I always saw myself as a little old woman spending my summers at camp. *sigh*

Although I still miss camp... God has provided the best therapy.

Aedan is this amazingly brilliant 4-year-old -- I was telling my friend, Lindsay, last night over dinner how I'm pretty positive I've had better conversations with Aedan than I have with a lot of adults. Crazy, but true.

Point being: he's extremely interested in my stories from Canyonview Camp specifically, (because of the animal names). Last week he said something about a turtle, which lead to me talking about my days as a camp counselor by the name of, 'Turtle', and him asking ALL about all of my friends from camp and their names and their best qualities (seriously!). He asks me to retell stories and remembers crazy details and says things like: "Lauren, remember when you sang the Squeegee song at camp?" Aedan's favorite animal is the Lion because it's the most powerful -- so, of course, he wants to know whether there was a 'Lion' at camp. There most definately was and probably still is, and I was able to tell Aedan that 'Lion's' brother, 'Rhino', is coming to visit... O man, this nearly set him through the roof. Haha. The last three days he says, "So, when's 'Lion's' brother, 'Rhino', coming to visit? I just can't wait to meet him." Ah, he's so flippin' cute!

All in all, while in my heart I'm missing camp (Canyonview and Willowbrook, mind you) something fierce and terrible, God's provided an outlet to let me release all of my longings with this wonderful little person; Aedan.

[sidenote: Today I was looking for my shoes and Aedan was certain they were in my car. He goes, "Don't you move a muscle! Don't even walk anywhere! I'm going to get your shoes, I'm positive they're in the car!" I told him one day he was going to be someone's 'knight in shining armor'. His response: "Well, yeah, but I'm missing one thing, aren't I?" I'm thinking, "What? What could he have in mind?" When I least expected it, he chimed back in to tell me, "A horse. I can't be a knight in shining armor without a horse. I just can't, can I?" Love him.]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Just wanting to record some highlights from Saturday... it was a lot of fun. :)

I watched Aedan and Chloë while their parents went sailing... we did the whole night-time routine... but it was just really nice, really refreshing. Haha.

So, I get there and Chloë has got this delightful, rock-hard hair from putting soap in it earlier in the day and Aedan has this wonderful BROWN design of something on his forearm. Needless to say, they needed baths. Chloë had hers first. We went to McDonald's for dinner to feed them and get some energy out.

At McD's: we get to the counter and Aedan informs me that he wants a 'pickle burger'.

Aedan: "...and make sure it's got pickles on it, okay?"

Me: "I'll do my best, Buddy."

(Keep in mind, I have to order the meals in French... I did mess up on their drinks, somehow ordering cola... and I had already brushed their teeth in case they fell asleep on the way home... so they had to wait a bit to have water from home.) Anywho, they both got cheeseburgers, as norm. Aedan starts opening his up and says, "I'm just so excited for this pickle burger! I cannot wait to find that pickle!" 

Seriously, I love these kids.

Aedan and I decided his Christmas present from me will be a big jar of pickles. He's stoked.

Then, there's Chloë. :) She was just this sweet little lovebug all evening. She was clearly exausted from the day, but she didn't give in to the usual crankiness from exaustion. Just before she hopped into bed and zonked out in record time, I caught this shot of her twirling like a ballerina:

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Psalm 111:4-6 (New International Version)
4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;

he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,

giving them the lands of other nations.

Though this whole experience of being thousands of miles from home, on my own in a foreign land has been extremely difficult... Not once have I had to wonder if God had forgotten about me. He is so loving and kind to me, when logically as far as any human relationship operates, He has every right to just shut me out.

Friday I recieved my phone bill. It's supposed to be a flat rate of 50€ a month. It was a whopping 216,89€. Ouch. I wasn't exactly sure what my financial state was as I don't have any way of checking to see what transactions go through... so this was just a bit shocking and stressful. I went to the bank today to find that I just have the right amount in my account. A friend offered to call the phone company since I am never available when they're open. My cupboards are fully stocked with food... (I got a bit ambitious Friday before I got my mail and bought rice and lentils and muesli.) Let's see... o! I have a friend moving to the states in September and she's offered to let me have her wardrobe and pots and pans and such which is perfect since I'll be moving into a different apartment at the end of this month. I've been kind of discouraged that I haven't been able to do more traveling since I've been here and was offered to join in a road trip in a few weekends to Torino, Italy. Seriously. This all happened within like 4 hours.

This morning at church we had a guest speaker come from Youth for Christ in Bologna, Italy. She spoke on success in God's eyes being love and faithfulness to Him. The world measures success as reaching goals and numbers and visibility... not that these things are bad or that we shouldn't set goals or hope for a change that is noticable from our efforts, but first and foremost, our allegiance is to God. When we practice love and faithfulness to God we win favor and good success in the eyes of God and often in the eyes of man as well. God opens doors and it's my part to stay faithful.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says, "1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

This is just a paraphrase of the first bit I shared. I read it and realized it is exactly what I'm thinking this evening. :)

Psalm 111:1-10 (The Message)
Hallelujah! I give thanks to God with everything I've got—
Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation.
God's works are so great, worth
A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial—
This God of Grace, this God of Love.
He gave food to those who fear him,
He remembered to keep his ancient promise.
He proved to his people that he could do what he said:
Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift!
He manufactures truth and justice;
All his products are guaranteed to last—
Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof.
All that he makes and does is honest and true:
He paid the ransom for his people,
He ordered his Covenant kept forever.
He's so personal and holy, worthy of our respect.
The good life begins in the fear of God—
Do that and you'll know the blessing of God.
His Hallelujah lasts forever!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ah, Independence Day. Do we really know what that means? I realized the other day, I had no idea what FREEDOM really was until I found myself captive, in bondage. Dramatic, maybe, but seriously. Never before have I lived so far outside any real system of authority. I'm here in France and the 'law' that I'm under is not one of authority. It's not of the country of France. It's not of any legal government. It's a piece of paper that continually changes, making my ability to stick to it that much more difficult. Never before have I felt so restricted, so enslaved, so confined. I never knew the beauty and power of the law.

The Word says, "The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple." Psalm 19:7. *sigh* Lately I've been thinking of how the law was made for our benefit. We are children of God and just as children need boundaries... so do we! Those boundaries give us freedom, they allow us to live fully without being overcome by anxiety and fear. They protect us just as our parents protected us by giving providing boundaries.

This one is a little farther off topic, but there is a vital connection somewhere. Here on earth we are called to follow the law of whatever government is in authority of us. It is generally pretty good, but still flawed. God has provided a perfect law and it's been written on each and every one of our hearts. He loves us like crazy and wants us to live deep, meaningful, amazing lives. Sometimes that means times will be difficult and hard, but through those times He is ever so faithful. Through the times of despair and hurt and confusion God stretches us and teaches us. He builds our character. (Most of this is me preaching to myself...) He provides opportunities for us to learn to become more like Jesus.

I've been listening to Air1 for encouragement and to make me feel a little closer to home. I was listening this morning and three of the songs were so real to my life right now. Jaymes Reunion has a song called, "Fine": You never really loved until you watch it fall apart And you never really lived until you felt like you can die And you never really stood until the weight has pushed you over Your pickin up the pieces just to find Your doin just fine... I'm trying my darndest to make the best of the situation I've been put in and to seek God with the dilemmas I find myself in. I'm learning to appreciate so many things I had never really thought about before.

Next song is by the wonderful band, Kutless. It's called, "To Know That You're Alive". It may sound kind of dark and dim... but it's a great song and it just struck a chord within my heart this morning. I know your pain is for a reason You need to feel just to know that You're alive. I am alive.

The third song is called "By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North. The first wonderful thing about this song is that it takes me back to Des Moines when I was living with Haley and Hannah. :) Haley's dad really liked this song and so she was learning to play it on her guitar. It's now my promise from God. "I love you, I want you to know. I love you I'll never let you go. I'll be by your side where ever you fall in the dead of night whenever you call please don't find these hands that are holdling you.

If you're reading this today, you're probably pretty far away, phisically from me... I just want you to know that I miss you right now and really, truly want to give you a great big hug! :)

"If you abide in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32. Truth. Truth is concrete. Solid. Unchanging. Truth is absolute.