Why Paris?

So. We’re moving to Paris. We’re planning and working hard to get there within 6 months. As we’ve been sharing our plans recently, it’s been really amazing to see the excitement people get as we talk with them about the passion and reason behind why we’re moving.

In telling people we’re moving to Paris to start a church, we get a lot of: “Oooh, that will be so fun!…What a dream city!…Oh, we loved going there on vacation – that would be amazing to live there!” Now, I’m not saying that we won’t enjoy living there – I know we will – but those really aren’t the reasons we’re going. Paul & I feel called there. To plant ourselves there for the rest of our lives, and to do whatever we can to bring Jesus to the people there. Paris is one of the roughest cities to do ministry in all of Europe – and actually most of the world. It’s lonely. People don’t have many friends, or places to form community. The friends they do have are generally very surface-level relationships. The suicide rates are extremely high. They feel unloved. They’ve all but rejected God. Also – it rains. A lot. (I’m really not a lover of drizzle.)

That is life in Paris. It’s not spending hours every day at museums or eating croissants while lounging on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower. It’s real life – along side very real, very hurting people. That is what we’re going there for. Paul & I have a call on our lives to be ministers. We aren’t going to be perfect at it, but it’s what we need to do. Our God is big enough to cover all the hurt, and even heal it in many lives. It’s a big thing we’re being asked to do with and for Him, and I couldn’t be more honored or humbled by it.

I am incredibly excited to finally get over there. It’s been a long time coming – and though we’re not there quite yet, I do know France is where we’ll be soon.

My hope is that you would better understand the commitment and investment we’re going to Europe to make. We believe that there are amazing things for the future, and amazing Europeans that God will to do great things through – and to be called to invest in them and in France is very exciting.

Are you a good leader?

What does it really mean to be a good leader? It’s something I’ve been mulling over – and more so when I recently came across this writing on leadership. I wrote it out for you – the image can make me go a little mad, however much I like it anyway.

davidfosterwallace_leadership_debbiemillman

“The weird thing is that the word leader itself is cliche and boring but when you come across somebody who actually is a real leader that person isn’t cliche or boring at all, in fact he’ sort of the opposite of cliche and boring….a real leader is somebody who because of his own particular power and charisma and example is able to inspire people with inspire being used here in a serious and non-cliche way. A real leader can somehow get us to do certain things that deep down we think are good and want to be able to do but usually can’t get ourselves to do on our own…you almost always like how a real leader makes you feel the way you find yourself working harder and pushing yourself and thinking in ways you couldn’t ever get to on your own…a real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.”

-David Foster Wallace

I think there is so much more to a good leader than what is written – this only begins to skim the surface. But I also think good leadership is rarely attained. It is something we (I) should always be working and striving for – to be shaped into a better leader tomorrow than I am today.

My favorite part of this quote is near the end: “a real leader is somebody who can help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.” The focus, all of a sudden, changes from you to others. I don’t think any of us can become a good leader – no matter how hard we try – until we learn to serve and help others. A good leader doesn’t dictate or control. A good leader comes up under or next to someone to help them to see and make use of the giftings they have.

Knowing that the rest of my life will be focused on serving people, I can’t help but think I have a long way to go. I’m not great at always knowing how to empower or encourage people when they’re doubtful about who they are or what they can do. I don’t always have the energy to help someone work on [their own] character development, and see them through from start to finish. I do have a huge passion for this however, and I know it will be a long process to refine those things in me and them – and it will be oh-so-rewarding for us both when that time comes.

There is so much more that could be said on this subject – and I’m sure I’ll have more insight as I gain more experience. But for today, my encouragement to you is to try to serve someone – not to selfishly serve someone to get a ‘helper-high’ – but to take a look at where they’re at, try to amplify their strengths by coming along side them and encouraging them in what they’re doing – or affirming who they are. Only then will we begin to skim the surface of what good leadership looks like.

Illustration: Debbie Millman
Script: David Foster

One Year.

Place Michel Debre street

Two to five years – that’s what we’ve been saying for the last eight years. We’re moving to France in 2-5 years. Well, not anymore! One year. That’s our plan anyway – to make our permanent, one-time move across the ocean in one year. We’ll have to wait to see if God has yet a different timeline for us, but as of now, that’s the plan.

I know i’m repeating myself a bit – one year…but I’m really anxious (in a good, very excited way) about this move. This is quite a milestone for us, whether or not anything has appeared changed from the outside. It’s been ‘in the making’ for almost a decade, and as I’m trying to make sure all our ducks are in a row before moving…I can’t help but wish we were already living there now. You know, French classes at the Sorbonne start one week from tomorrow. Just saying…

Lately I’ve been craving France. A few months ago I was afraid I was getting so comfortable here in the States that I was starting to fear we’d never move. Now I want nothing more than to open our apartment up for anyone and everyone to come and buy or just take all our stuff so we can jump on a plane. I’m longing to live in a place where we can put down roots. Start a church. Maybe start a family. We’ve been living in this perpetual state of transience, and I am so ready to be done with it. I’m ready to get to know my neighbors and nearby shop owners. I’m ready to have our weekly Saturday pastry morning in the place where pastries were born! I’m ready for the crying, after coming home from a long day out, having not understood a thing going on around me. I’m ready for that glorious day when I can go shopping on my own, ask for something (in French), and have them understand me! I wish this journey was starting next week, but I know this upcoming year will be a big one, with meaningful changes. God has already brought us so far these last few years, and I am so ready for the next stage!

I have a feeling the next 12 months will be exciting. Our company will grow – we’ll hire people. We’ll begin to raise support so we can move. We’ll update our passports and apply for French Visas. We’ll sell almost everything we own. We’ll apply to be enrolled in French classes in Paris. We’ll move overseas with a 12 pound cat who hates cat-carriers with a vengeance, and a 105 pound dog whose ticket will cost as much as one of our plane tickets overseas. We’ll say goodbye to our families, new nieces and nephews. Man, I’m not looking forward to that day. But all of it means that we get the honor of living how and where God has asked us to. That makes the goodbyes ok, and makes the tears mean something.

I’m realizing this all sounds a bit like I’m super discontent being here – and honestly there is a small amount of that, but it’s more an excitement of a dream and calling becoming a reality. That’s all. Just felt like sharing my excitement. Until the next milestone.

Heartache

Love and heartache

What do you do when your heart aches for something? How many of us act on that ache? What if we can’t act on it right now? What do you do then? Wait? Find a way – even if it doesn’t seem ‘right’ just quite yet?

“When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” – Oscar Wilde

Some of you know Paul & I are planning on moving to Paris *soon* maybe 1.5 – 2 years from now. This isn’t some fanciful dream, some idealistic fantasy. This is a life calling. It is where we feel at home. It’s where we’ll have a family. Buy our first home. Start a church. It is where we plan to die – literally (one day..hopefully not for many decades 🙂 ). It’s where we know we are supposed to be, where we belong. But how do you deal with the fact that it is obviously not where you need to be now (obviously, because we aren’t physically there right now). I know that God has us here, now, for a purpose…I think for me it’s just a little difficult to deal with when that purpose seems so mundane.

Trust. Faithfulness. These are the words that keep coming to mind when I try to figure out how I am supposed to deal with the fact that I’m not working on and living through that ‘ache.’ How can it be so difficult to keep trusting in God’s perfect timing – His ultimate faithfulness? He is faithful. He will never stop being faithful. Is it just me, or does it seem as though we have to learn the same lessons over and over? I thought I had this one down. Well, here we go again..

What’s your Devotion?

What is your Devotion?

devotion copy

I have a question to propose. If nobody responds, it’s fine, but here goes. A musing of mine:

How many of you have something in your life that you know will be a life-long “calling” (or summons, commitment, duty, devotion, pledge), something that you would lay your life on the line for? I’m not talking about overarching themes in your life, like “faith” or “relationships”. It can be related to those, however. Do you have something? I don’t ask to make you feel bad if you don’t have one. Just honestly curious.

Should we have one? Something to commit our lives in devotion to? Something, some cause that we never release? Do you have one? Let me know. I’d love to hear!