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Showing posts from 2014

To Jars of Clay: This Is My Journey

This blog post is a collection of thoughts from this past year. Thoughts from my heart as I struggled for a deeper faith. From the beginning - where I was an excited (and maybe slightly scared) traveler about to set out on a journey - to the middle - with all of its realities and the return of normal struggles - to the end - as I look back at what God has done over this year. This is my journey.
January 6, 2014

"Delight in The Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Psalm 24:7
I thought I knew what the desires of my heart were.
I've ALWAYS wanted to go to France. Ever since I could remember I was intrigued by the story of my French Acadian ancestors. I loved it when my Dad pulled out his big black book of family records. To walk the streets of my ancestors, I though that was one of my hearts desires.
I've always wanted to travel to Europe. My sisters and I, we used to play dress up. We were princesses in European countries. I always picked Austria, d…

Thank You

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Somehow thank you doesn't seem like enough. But how else do I express my gratitude to all of the people who have been a part of this last year of my life?

To my family: You said goodbye. You let me go. Yet you were right behind me the entire way. You've cheered me on through this year. You sent me packages when I needed a little bit of home.  You prayed for me; you've been doing it since I was born. Even if you didn't know what it would hold, you prayed for this year and what God would do.

Prayer warriors: You know who you are. I wasn't always consistent in sending you my prayer requests, but you were consistent in your prayers. You carried me, this city, my fellow students, and so many other things to the ear of God this year. You may not have been here, but the knowledge that your prayers were going before everything I did sustained me on many days.

International and French students: You are amazing. You smiled with me through all the awesome things that happened…

European Adventures: Strasbourg

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It looked like I was walking into a painting. Adorable German style housing. Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. It was a perfect last trip: Strasbourg and their Christmas markets.

I went with three friends: Michael, Fern, and Elena. I love traveling in small groups like that. You have friends to experience it with, but it is a small enough group to make decisions fairly easy.

We spent four days - including travel - on this trip. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Strasbourg is the "Capitale de Noel" - the Capital of Christmas. They wear that title with pride and embrace it everywhere.



I loved the buildings and seeing them all decorated for Christmas was magical!


Of course, what is Christmas without a Christmas tree? Strasbourg has a huge tree that is beautifully decorated.

The Christmas markets were the reason we were in town! I had been wanting to go since I first decided I was going to study in France. I loved doing all my Christmas shopping there!


O…

Christmas Season + Processing My Year

It is officially Christmas season! Yes, Thanksgiving has come and gone. It is time to pull out the Christmas tree and decorations. Smells that will always be associated with Christmas fill the air. Christmas music floats through the house (much to the annoyance of some).

Or not.

Thanksgiving did come and go. I spent the day in class. Thankfully, I had the wonderful experience of another Friendsgiving with all of the international students and quite a few of the French students the evening before Thanksgiving. We had traditional Thanksgiving food - macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, pecan pie, and of course a turkey! We also had food from all over the world. It was amazing. On Thanksgiving day, I spent the evening with my fellow FMU students. I also got to Skype my family!

I definitely missed my family, but it was not as strange as I thought it would be. Since the rest of France was not celebrating, it didn't feel like I was missing out on the holiday …

European Adventures: London

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Hello my lovely readers! It has been a while, I know. But I just got back from a little vacation to ... London!

Let me just start by saying, I loved London! It is a fantastic city, especially at night and with Christmas lights up! Because it is winter, the sun sets around 4 PM so I got to enjoy a lot of London by night.

When I first arrived, I went to the Tower of London. Lorelei, the friend I was visiting, works near there, so I enjoyed looking at the Tower, the River, and the skyline while I waited for her to get off of work.
After we dropped my stuff off at her friend's apartment (who graciously let me stay there while she was on holiday), we took the Tube over to the Oxford Street area. We walked around, caught up with each other, and enjoyed the Christmas light. After dinner at the nice little Italian restaurant, we called it a night.

The next day I spent back over on the west side of London. I walked down Oxford Street and saw some of London's famous department stores.

I…

Wherever He Leads I'll Go

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Wherever He leads I'll go

One year ago - if you would have asked - I would have told you that I had wanderlust in my veins. If you counted living at college, I had lived in eight places in twenty years. Now that number is nine. Nine places, twenty-one years. I really do enjoy new places. But if you remember my post about roots, then you'll know that the wanderlust is at war with the need for something solid and lasting.

Wherever He leads I'll go

Today I sit here and I am six weeks from going home. I am more than a little bit excited. Living in the here and now: I'm trying, but it gets more difficult with each day I get closer to home, to my family.

I'll follow my Christ who loves me so

But there is a catch to that. If everything works out with my grant and application to a master's program, I'll be home for about eight months before I will leave for another year. After that, I'll have to move yet again to find a job. As excited as I am about the field tha…

Hello November: My Ramblings About This Month

Well, hello November; I wasn't expecting you quite so soon. I guess I lost track of time. But here you are, so let's get started.

This month is going to be kind of crazy. When I look at my calendar it's a little bit overwhelming. This week, for instance, I'll be in class Monday through Friday for six hours each day. Yikes!

It's not all a bad overwhelming though. Toward the middle of the month I'll be headed to London to visit a friend and explore the city! I'm pretty excited about that. It will be my last trip outside of France until I fly home. That day is now less than 50 days away - excuse me while I pick my jaw  up off the floor. Sometimes I still feel like I just got here.

This week is also the beginning of the Pray for France Challenge from the International Mission Board. It's a week of prayer for this country and it's going to be special to take part from inside the country, to pray as I walk the streets. But you don't have to be here to…

The Here and Now

Conflicted. That was what I was going to originally entitle this post.

That's how I feel right now. I'm conflicted. As I approach the 50-days-until-home mark, my feelings are all mixed up. I am so very excited to go home and see my family. I've been away from home for ten months now. That is a long time. Longer than I've ever been gone before. The people (and places) I love are all associated with home - South Carolina. Part of me is counting down the days.

The other part isn't, though. In spite of all the ups and downs (or perhaps because of them), I have truly enjoyed my time in France. I still pinch myself when I realize I've been to Paris four different times now and I spent a week in Italy to celebrate my birthday. The best part, by far, has been the people. All the beautiful, precious friendships. I believe I am in denial; I can't quite wrap my head around the thought that we will have to say goodbye.

Part of me can't wait to leave, part of me nev…

#PrayforPoitiers

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That was my hash tag yesterday.

Yesterday was the International Mission Board's (IMB) Day of Prayer for European People. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you might have seen my virtual prayer walk of the city throughout the day.

International missions has always seemed that: international. I've met international missionaries; I've heard and read the stories. But they all seemed so far away. So when I saw that the IMB had a day of prayer for European people, I was really excited. I'm in Europe after all! This day wasn't just a day of prayer for a far away land. It was for my home for the year. My European country, my city. The people I know.

I decided the evening before to prayer walk around the city. Quite honestly, it isn't something that I had done before. But I had the chance to pray in the city, so I didn't want to just sit at home.

Along the way, I started snapping photos on my iPod so that I could share my prayer walk with others. I wanted to …

I'm Not Perfect

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I'm not perfect.

That's actually harder to say than I'd like to admit.

You see, I try to make sure that I look like I have it all together. Truth is I don't really.

Growing up, I was the preacher's daughter. That is a very public position to be in. And - in spite of my parents best efforts to remind me that they didn't have any expectations because I was the preacher's daughter - I felt the pressure to be perfect.

Now I'm not saying I ever was; but I tried my hardest to be a good girl. To do the things I was supposed to and to live by all the rules. I wanted to be a good example.

And I started out with the right intentions. I wanted to serve Jesus. So I helped around the church and I did the missions trips. All the things I was supposed to or "expected" to do. But over time I lost the "why". And I started doing those things because I thought that is what people expected me to do. I had built up an image of me that looked good; I did…

Homecoming

Today my church back at home, Pleasant Hill Baptist, will celebrate their annual "Homecoming" day.
And for the first time in my entire life, I will not be attending; I won't be "coming home."
If you're unfamiliar with the tradition of homecoming, let me explain. Homecoming is celebrated mostly by Southern American churches. It's held annually normally in the summer or fall. The idea behind the day is that people who used to go to the church but do not any more - mostly because they moved away - are invited to come to back and enjoy a day of fellowship at their old "home" church. Thus, the name "Homecoming." This tradition is celebrated by inviting previous preachers to come and preach the sermon that morning. The worship service is normally followed by a potluck meal where everyone gets to visit and catch up with friends and family. It really is a fun day.
Right now the word homecoming has three different meanings for me.
The first, …

The Story of Esther: Inspiration For Today

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It's a small little button. All I have to do it click it once: commitment, done, out of my hands.

But I'm scared to click the button. What if I did something wrong? What if it's not enough? What if I don't get it? What then?

Those are the thoughts that are running through my mind as my cursor hovers over the submit application button on the Fulbright scholarship website. Remember how I told you that I plan to pursue a master's degree at the University of Leeds? Well, it's an expensive program. So I am apply for this scholarship which would cover most of the cost of my year in Leeds. It's a very competitive national scholarship. The process has been daunting. And those questions are very real for me.

Over the past few days, I have been reading the book of Esther. Esther is one of my Biblical heroes. She was just an ordinary girl - probably quite young, too. She is taken from her family and forced into a life that is far different from the one she was prepar…

A Semester Update + Our American Cookout

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School has started. Yep, we're back at it again. Surprisingly, I'm actually ok with that. School starting back mean that new students have moved into Poitiers. I am really enjoying getting to know everyone. This semester we have a great group of students from 19 different countries, which is just fabulous!
I've only started a few classes so far: one language, one culture, and one business class. The culture class I love! It's fun to learn about Europe. I'm also enjoying my French class so far; I feel like I'm actually learning something this semester. I'm not a huge fan of my business class, but that is mostly because I don't understand the subject matter. I am looking forward to a lot of the classes I'll be taking this semester though. We're covering some interesting topics.
Now, that is the boring update stuff. What have I been up to lately? Well, other than trip planning and many visits to coffee shops with friends, I just hosted an American …

100 Days Left

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Today marks one hundred days left in my study abroad adventure.

It's hard to believe that the year is more than two thirds of the way done. I am so very ready to see my family and friends. I miss them like crazy. And there are quite a few things about being home that I'm ready for, too.

But I'm also sad when I think that I'm nearing the end of my year in France. Was it really just eleven months ago that I got the news that I was going to be living and studying abroad for a year? So much has happened in that time.

I fully plan to enjoy and make the most of these last 100 days, though! In honor of this special day, I'd like to share the top ten (only ten - I don't want to completely bore you) things I'm looking forward to about the rest of my year!

1) American Cookout - This Sunday, I'm hosting another American cookout with the help of some friends! We're introducing our new friends to s'mores!


2) London - I met my friend Lorelei when she came to …

Italian Adventure: Rome & My Twenty-First Birthday

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Rome. It's a city that has been around for over two thousand years. It has seen the rise and fall of one of of the world's greatest empires. It was at one time the center of the commercial and cultural world.
And it's a place I've always dreamed of visiting. I love the idea of ancient Rome. I that it is a city I read about in the Bible. One of my favorite series of novels is set in the city.

So after Florence, I made my way to Rome. That Sunday was a lazy day. After a late breakfast at a Florentine cafe, I hung out in the train station until around noon. Then it was an hour and a half trip to The Eternal City. Upon arrival, I checked into my hostel and got acquainted with my New Zealand dorm mates. Later that evening, my friend, Michael arrived from the airport and we went out to grab a quick bit for dinner. We ate a delicious lasagna! Perfectly Italian. Then we caught up and traded stories about our respective travels.

The next day was my birthday!

First on the agend…

Italian Adventure: Florence and Pisa

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I followed my visit to Venice with one to Florence. Florence wasn't exactly on my list of "must see" destinations, but so many of my friends recommended it that I decided it would be perfect for stop number two of my week in Italy. Plus, I could make a day trip to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
A two hour train ride brought me through northern Italy to one of the most amazing cities the country offers. Florence is classic Italy. It's in the heart of Tuscany. And it's beautiful. I was able to check into my hostel fairly quickly after arriving, so I decided to explore a bit. I quickly realized that Florence is a fairly compact city making it perfect to explore on foot. I spent two hours wandering the streets.
First I ran into one of the leather markets. Florence is famous for its leather. The market was fun to walk through, though I didn't purchase anything at any of the stalls. They had everything from belts and purses to shoes and luggage. I then walked down…

Italian Adventures: Venice

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It's hard to believe it but four months from today I will be on a flight home. That's a bittersweet thought. But these last four months promise to be fun and adventure filled! I'm hoping for a trip or two over to the UK and I still have a city I would like to visit here in France. Plus school is going to start in another two weeks, in that time another group of international students will take up residence in Poitiers. I can't wait to make some new friends!
Enough talk about the future. Time to talk about the past. Well, the past week anyway.

Italy. Oh Italy. A week was not enough. The country is gorgeous. The people are nice. The food, well I'm still not a huge fan of pasta, but the pizza was great! Oh and gelato; let's not forget the heavenly creation called gelato. The sea and the mountains! It was an amazing birthday adventure!

I started my week in Venice. I flew from Paris to the Marco Polo airport which is actually located on the mainland. From there I took …