Coming Change

It’s been a calm Saturday today. Spring has finally come to Indiana, at least it seems to have come. I cannot always tell how the weather will change or if there’s still a little bit of winter left to come. It’s not unheard of to have snow in April. However, today, spring is here. I opened up my balcony door, turned on my ceiling fan, and just enjoyed having the sounds of spring and fresh breezes waft through my small apartment.

I have had plenty to do today with empty boxes filling my living room which need to be filled to move soon. There’s a paper which needs to be written, homework to be done, exams to grade, wedding plans to work through, and I should maybe eat something soon. This week was so incredibly busy and overwhelming with so much due and so much going on. This afternoon, I decided to take some time to just sit and listen and be still for a little while. Deadlines are there, but I have found that I do much better if I also take breaks and take care to not overdo.

So much change is in the air beyond just the changing of the seasons. They’re good changes, yes, and I’m so excited about them, but with change comes a time of readjustment as well. Thinking back over the last five years of my life, change has been a constant. From moving across the country to start a graduate school program and later, moving across the world to teach for a year, to now preparing to get married and start a new life in another state, it’s been quite a beautiful adventure so far. Not to say, there haven’t been struggles and problems along the way because there definitely have been. I’ve loved how unpredictable it’s been in many ways, and how I never could have dreamed it up on my own how this story would unfold so far.

I remember in my childhood learning quite a few lessons about change. We moved from Georgia to Texas when I was young, and it took me a few years to fully adjust and start identifying as a “Texan”. {Come on, we’re talking about Texas here, y’all, it’s hard to live there and not just become a Texan.} Through it all, my parents taught me some valuable lessons about following God’s direction despite the changes it might involve. God knew us three younger kids would need that lesson as we’ve all experienced moves into areas which are unfamiliar through trying to follow His direction.

As I ponder all of the upcoming changes, I sometimes wonder what’s ahead in life. These thoughts bring a mix of emotions to my mind both of fear and of anticipation. A thousand “What ifs” cloud my mind sometimes. The more I experience changes, the more I am thankful for the Lord who is my firm foundation and who changes not. No matter the changing belief systems of our governments and cultures, He never changes and His Truth never changes. No matter what’s ahead and whether those “What ifs” come to pass, He is still good, He is my Rock.

One of my favorite hymns I learned while I was in France (pictured isn’t all of the hymn) is a prayer for God to teach His child no matter what comes. It asks that He might guard our hearts even in the midst of a storm and give us strength and comfort throughout life. “Teach me” the title says. This song touched me as I sang it with some of my dear Christian friends there.
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I’m thankful for His leading and His care over His children. I’m thankful we can trust in Him who changes not.

Enseigne-moi, Seigneur!

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Living and Learning

It’s been a month.

I’ve been here a month.

In some ways it feels like it flew by while in other ways it’s felt like it has dragged on in one long day after another. I am thankful that the Lord in His infinite wisdom did not reveal to me in advance what it would be like this first month because frankly, it’s been tough. I’m glad this isn’t the end of the story though.

I hit a low point about a week ago. Yet another thing had messed up to add to the large pile of complications I was already dealing with, and I was exhausted and upset. I felt like I was at the end of my rope of what I could handle which is precisely when God seems to work. Verses began coming to my mind reminding me that it is He who is in control, it is He who makes my way perfect (not me), it is He who sustains me and gives me strength. I realized how prone to complaining I have been. True, it’s a tough schedule to have at the university, but He gave me those 200+ kids to teach. He has a purpose. I feel inadequate, and well I should, but I have to trust that He will give me the strength and fortitude to make it through each day. As I look to Him to give me strength, what seems impossible becomes possible.

Gradually, little things are starting to work out. I have a bank account open which is a big relief. Getting paid and having a debit card are still in the works, but I’m just thankful to have an account finally open. Some paperwork I’d sent back to the U.S. to release funds for a scholarship I’ve been granted did arrive and is being processed. I didn’t hear that it had arrived, so I was biting my nails a little worrying if I’d made a mistake in addressing the envelope. I finally figured out the confusing copy request form only to then be shown how to submit my copy requests online. Hopefully, because of this extra guidance there won’t be a repeat of Tuesday’s copy disaster. I also officially signed up for a class to take while I’m here. The whole registration process here is its own learning experience. There are still plenty of other things that have yet to work out that I do beg prayers for, but at least there seems to be some small amount of progress made. This definitely helps my peace of mind! I’m also so much more thankful for things I took for granted back in the States.

The last couple of days have gone very well. I’m starting to feel more relaxed, less tense, and more accustomed to life here. I’ve had to realize that the first time doing anything is never easy, thus I have to stop being such a perfectionist. Thank the Lord, I’m starting to find my way! I’m feeling less homesick and less sad as the days go by. I still sigh for home when I look at the buses and trains coming and going each day and if I dream of hugging someone at home. The way I look at it though, I may never pass this way again. My dear ones will be there when I get home, Lord willing. Life will return to the crazy grad school life it normally is at Purdue, and this will all be a memory. How will I spend this time? Moaning for home or cheerfully doing the best I can to do the work He has given me to do while I’m here?

I have a little over nine months left.

Nine months.

Do you realize how fast that will go by? Faster than I can even imagine, I’m sure. In some ways I hope it goes by quickly, but I hope I have time to savor each moment and grow. Oh, Lord, help me grow! Write my story!

Write My Story

Traveling and Learning

Well, so I left off with a short sum up of that I’m basically on an adventure. At the time of my posting, I didn’t quite realize where those adventures would take me, but they’ve been eye-opening and quite unforgettable in more ways than one.

So, what has this coffee addict been doing the last couple of weeks?

Should I mention drinking coffee since that seems to be a no-brainer? So, yes, I have been drinking espresso to my heart’s content. I spend most of my mornings reading until I decide that I will indeed venture out into the wet weather to do some exploring. My French is somewhat lacking in the mornings since I don’t even generally like to communicate in English until I’ve had time to let the coffee have its effect. However, I’ve been enjoying seeing museums and talking to various people.

This past week was probably about the most eventful. I got a cultural education in several ways from taking a student to a French doctor to finding out how enthusiastic people are about soccer games. Plus, I learned that maybe my sense of direction is not as bad as I thought (I know my brother Jesse is laughing at this statement). Let’s just say when you have a large number of students depending on you to get them places, you sit down and figure out that map. Yes, I did, however, veer off the right trail a couple of times trying to find the right hotel in Paris last weekend. They really should have had a clearer sign is all I’m saying! Sorry, guys!

I’ve enjoyed this trip so far because I’ve been able to learn a lot more about the culture than my last time in France. The last time in France, I was trying so hard to learn French that I often missed the cultural aspect. Yes, I learned about culture, but I wasn’t able to observe it and experience it in the same way. Here, I’ve been able to be a lot more conversational and ask more questions than last time. I also know more about some of the history of places I’m looking at which came in handy this past weekend in Paris. I felt like a kid in a candy store because I knew the significance of a certain road or bridge or why this monument means something.

Not many people are able to enjoy this kind of an opportunity. God has really blessed me! How many people are able to take 5 weeks off from a crazy busy life to just relax and soak in another culture? Not many. I have seen how He has been using this time to help me grow. I obviously miss family and friends and all that is familiar, but I will see that again soon enough. Annoying as it has been, I’m actually thankful that I haven’t had much access to internet. I’ve been out doing things and learning instead of sitting in front of a screen.

I have so much enjoyed Reims. What a place! Americans are not very common here, so we are often viewed as some sort of exhibit. I absolutely cracked up on the tram the other day as we were on our way to a train station. I was with two other girls and we had spoken a little in English when we first got on and then were silent. There were two French guys in suits jabbering away in French next to us. Then, one of them looked at us and said chuckling to his friend in French: “Americans. You see them on the internet and then, suddenly, they’re right in front of you.” I don’t think they realized I could understand. I shared what they said with the other two and it just made our morning. I would definitely say that we are learning a lot about the French and the French are probably learning some about us.

Well, my time here is nearly ended. I will head to visit some friends in the south of France this weekend and then will fly home in a little less than a week. I will be able to post pictures after I get home. Something I’m greatly looking forward to!

For now, I’ll lay back and relax listening to the sounds of France through my open window.