My Year – 2017

The year is quickly coming to a close (in fact, 2017 will end in exactly 57 minutes from the time I’m writing ing this), and 2018 will arrive before anyone knows it. I say this a lot and I truly mean it: time does fly.

Let me say something in all honesty… A lot of people complain about how bad 2016 was, then they complain about how their 2017 was supposed to be “their” year and it wasn’t. Now we’re repeating the same process. Here’s what you and I must realize: The year will be what we make it.

Let me shine some light on one of the things that made my year: People.

Since moving to France I’ve really had no choice but to meet people, seeing as I knew no one, but this year in particular has led to many new acquaintances. If you’ve been reading my sporadic blog posts for a while you may remember a previous post entitled “That Was Unexpected.” If you’re new, welcome! Moving on. I wrote that post when I met one of the many people this year has brought into my life.

I’m not even going to count the people I’ve met with year because I don’t want to leave anyone out, but what I can say for certain is that each new acquaintance that I’ve made has been in response to my first prayer upon arriving in France: God send me friends.

I’ve made acquaintances at weddings, through my brothers, through social media, and my favourite… NAYC17. At Congress alone I met at least 30 people, all of which I shared a connection with without having previously known them. That wouldn’t have been possible had God not sent my family to France.

I stay in contact with some more than with others, but that doesn’t mean the other people mean less. I truly believe that God placed each one into my life in answer to that prayer that I prayed three years ago. Whether they were from North or South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, (I have yet to meet someone from Antarctica, but six continents out of seven is still pretty impressive 😉 Little old me somehow managed to find people from all around the world.

So. What made my year? People did. New friends did. That bearded bus driver, the one that waves to me and smiles every morning, he did. God did.

I think everyone should take a step back and think for a minute, because I’m sure if you looked hard enough, you would find at least one good thing that made your 2017. A gesture, an act of kindness, thoughtfulness, a new friend, a stranger buying your coffee, or finally publishing that book of yours.

Little or small, it couldn’t have been all bad. How good was your 2017, really?

🙂

 

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Ready Aim Release

I’ll have to admit something… life as a homeschooler in France, when your brothers are away in private school isn’t the most exciting lifestyle. but I’m not complaining, After classes, I’m perfectly content to stay at home, chill, light a candle, play some instrumental music, dim the lights to set the mood, and either read or write (or watch a movie, if I’m being honest). I’m happy with this life, the only thing that disturbs me is everything I’m missing because of my bat-like life.

BUT… “I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there”, and tell you how my hermit life became a little less of a hermit life 😉

Why not take to calling me Kat? Why? Since September, my normally bland week now has an activity, that activity being archery, hence the nickname. I’m currently a Katniss in training. Some people were surprised by my choosing this sport (yes, it is a sport), but I just found it appealing, and I thought I’d like to learn more about it.

If you remember my title “Ready Aim Release” I’ll tell you what I have in mind. I learned a lot in my first lesson of archery. Things like safety rules, how to arm and disarm a bow, how to hold the bow, “the stance”, and how to aim and shoot.

Image result for princess mia, archery

After coming home late from class (because sometimes time isn’t well managed… all the better for practice), a thought came to me. In class, I learned, first hand, that stance and positioning do matter and greatly determine the arrow’s trajectory. When using the eye, an archer aims by looking at the point of the arrow. For the arrow to go where the archer wants it (which is normally the center), the archer needs to take time to aim, position his hand in the correct place, and pull back far enough to give the arrow enough force to strike the target accurately.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” -1 Corinthians 3:11

I started to apply this idea of position, aim, and release to life. For the arrow to hit the target, a strong core and foundation are needed; this example is the one I applied to life. Think of your life as the arrow, and the center of the target is God’s plan for you, the perfect future he has planned. Now, for your life to follow God’s plan, you need a strong foundation, but what every person has to figure out for himself is what makes up his foundation. Is it something solid or shaky? The answer to that question will determine where that arrow (your life, my life) will go.

Hold your head up, straighten your back, pull back your shoulders, suck in that gut, ready your arrow, pull back, aim, and release. I believe the greatest release will be when our life hits the center where God’s plan lies. 10 points in the game, much more in life.

Tag me.

      Ugly thoughts.          God’s thoughts

Now, I don’t mean “tagging” as in mentioning someone in your group picture on Instagram, or referencing someone in your latest tweet, I mean judging, or placing a label.

This was a late-night thought that I had to think out in a post, because It’s something others should think out as well.

My generation is so quick to put a label on something, based on what it looks like. Even Christian young people can fall into that trap. I have to take a step back, and wonder if I do the same thing. It’s so easy to do, and most times, we do it without thinking. I certainly hope I don’t, because I wouldn’t want someone basing my worth on my appearance.

We’re human, and judge the outward appearance way too quickly.

“She’s fat”, “He’s too scrawny”, “She has acne”, “they’re not smart enough”.

The list can go on and on, because we have no end to the imperfections we can find in others. There will always be someone who will find a fault in one’s appearance, attitude, and even lifestyle. Those kind of thoughts are so easily expressed behind the security of a screen and the mask of social media, and can cause so much damage to a person.

But the sad thing is, we don’t even need others to do the tagging. We tag ourselves based on what we see every day in the mirror.

“…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

I thank my lucky stars that God didn’t label me based on the what the world can see.

You may tag yourself as “ugly,” but God says “lovely.” You may think of yourself as “too fat, gross, not good enough but God sees “wonderfully made.” “No talent.” … but God sees “Able to be used.”

No matter what we think of ourselves, God’s thinking is based on what He sees inside. He tags our hearts. In the rest of the verse above, God rejects another of David’s brothers as king of Israel, even though Samuel thought, surely this is he. But no. God anointed David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, the shepherd, to rule as king over the nation of Israel. Not even Jesse expected David to be chosen, but he was, because he was a man after God’s own heart.

It’s a hard thing to do, and it’s something that probably won’t happen over night, but we need to make an effort to stop tagging; ourselves and others. We need to stop labeling ourselves as not good enough, not pretty enough, or not smart enough. It shouldn’t matter what the world labels me as, I’m a child of the King.

So tag me, God. Look at my heart and tag it. Let me be used for your glory.

This Is That! A New Family

This past week has been a jet lag recovery week. If it could have a theme song, it would have to be something with a very slow rhythm and the repetition of the word ‘lazy.”

The reason for the let jag is this: I was in America! Dad, Dominic, and I had gone to the U.S. for North American Youth Congress 2017, or NAYC17, because who has the time to write all that out.

Being “missionary kids (MK)” of sorts, we were going to be grouped with other MKs. Was I excited about NAYC? Yes. Was I even more excited by the fact that I would spend NAYC with other MKs? YES!

Not all MKs are shown in this photo

To those who don’t know much about missionary kids, let me tell you, without trying to flatter myself in any way, they’re an incredible group of people. Throughout congress, I had several people tell me they thought of MKs as “unspoken heroes”.

As MKs, often times, we have little choice but to follow our parents to wherever they feel God calls them. That means leaving what was comfortable, and going into the uncomfortable, which isn’t always a bad thing, and I’m so grateful to be able to experience life on the mission field. That’s not to say it wasn’t hard.

We leave everything behind, but we have the opportunity to gain so much. We meet new people, learn new languages, get to be a part of a new church work. I had met MKs in different conferences, but never really got to know them. I’d also heard people talk about the “MK family”, little did I know then, I would get to be a part of it. At NAYC, I was surrounded by MKs from all around the world; almost every continent was represented. I made friends, but not just any friends, friends who could understand me, and everything I go through as a kid on the mission field.

I shared a room with an MK and an honorary MK, and both girls were amazing! I met a girl who I connected with on so many levels, both in our ministries and our interests. So many people, so many new friends, so many memories that I will cherish. Memories like the worshiping, praying, crying, all with people I had just met. Now I understand what the “MK family” means. Because that’s what it is: a family. Young people who understand and love each other, and who share a bond unlike any other. #nayc17#LucasOilStadium#Indianapolis

This Is That! That was the theme of NAYC17. You may think it’s an odd phrase when it stands alone, but the services at Congress made me realize the power those three words hold. The phrase comes from Acts 2:16 which says–

But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; -Acts 2:16

What did Joel say? In the following verses, the prophesy that the prophet Joel declares in the old testament (Joel 2:28-32) is restated by the apostle Luke.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: -Acts 2:17

That’s not where it stops, there’s more. Feel free to read the rest yourself. The revival was prophesied, the Holy Ghost was going to be out poured powerfully in the last days. If you could see and hear the worship of the 34,000 young people in the Lucas Oil Stadium, you would see that time is already here. People from all over the world, speaking in tongues, in one accord, is a big step up from Azusa Street, and it will only continue to grow. I’m just thankful I could be a part of this life-changing event.

This is That for me.

 

My Little Mermaid Heart

Hold on. Don’t jump my gun, I’m back! Let me speak to y’all for a minute.

Last week marked the beginning of a two week journey without mother in the house, as she and Timo jetted off to Belgium and Ireland. We drove down to the west coast of France where we dropped the two deserters at an airport where they would catch their flight.

What to do now?… We had the whole day, and seven minutes from the airport was a bridge leading to the little island of Ré… Of course we would spend the day there. Beach, books, sun, ice cream, ocean = perfection!

Île de Ré has my mermaid heart

“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place…and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.”            -Genesis 1: 9-10

God said the oceans were good; I completely agree. Let me expand a bit on my love for the sea.

Growing up in St. John, New Brunswick meant growing up right beside the Atlantic. The seagulls were always screaming, the air was always salty, and the ocean was always nearby in case there was ever a sudden urge to go swimming in the freezing waters. This was home, this was normal, this was my life. My brothers and I were fish, it didn’t matter how cold the water was, just give it a few minutes… the water wouldn’t get any warmer, but your body temperature would eventually consider this environment the new ‘norm’.

Blue sky, grey sky, it didn’t matter. I can remember one fairly grey day. The tide was out, the sky was grey, and a nice layer of fog decided to hang in the air. The parents set up the towels and sat on the cool sand and my brothers and I ran and cartwheeled through the fog to meet the water.

I have a lot of memories that have to do with the sea and water. Moving to a region in France that is a couple hours away from my beloved ocean meant there wouldn’t be as much ‘ocean time’ as before. Going to the island of Ré was refreshing for my little mermaid heart and a reminder of my love for the sea.

The ocean is a funny thing. Don’t think that I believe in legends or fairytales, but hear me out. There are stories of sirens calling men to the ocean, calling sailors to their demise, but I have a different idea. The stories that say the sirens call, but I think the ocean is the one who does the calling. “you used to call me on my shellphone…” Huh, what? forget I said that.

Being on the island, smelling the salty air, hearing the annoyingly lovely cries of the seagulls, and feeling the sand under my feet reminded me of why I love the the sea. Now my mermaid heart is renewed, and is eager to be by the sea once again.

 

THAT was Unexpected!

*  Disclaimer  *
The names of persons and places in this post
have been modified to protect their identity.
(you could ask, and I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you! 🙂 )


How can someone expect the unexpected? Well they can’t unless they are extremely talented.

“Who would have known you would move to France and make a friend in “Neverland” (as the location shall remain shrouded in mystery)?

This happens to be one of the things in life that cannot be expected. I have a new friend. Never in my life had I met or had any contact with “A1” (*note: modified name, in case you didn’t get that already*), prior to coming here however, I’m thinking that maybe God saw that I needed someone to talk to, and so He sent them to me. Our friendship started out with a simple message but instead of ending and replying with something stupidly simple and concluding, I kept talking to A1 and in turn, A1 kept talking to me.

I used to be quite the outgoing person in my church, in fact, looking back, I realize that I probably ran my mouth a little too much. Never the less, I had the ability to converse with almost everyone. Coming to France made me curl back into an old, dusty shell that I had not used in years, and I lost a little bit of that ability to easily converse. When making new friends, you need to do a little bit of small talking, or course, but too much small talk is what gets me: I want to get to know someone. One of the things that I wonder quite often is if social media is part of the problem. Now please don’t mistake what I’m saying. I like social media (most times), and I met my new friend though social media; but I’m starting to wonder if social media has led to people losing the ability to have a real face-to-face conversation.

Think back to when you were a child. Most of what came out of our mouths wasn’t a well-thought through speech, we didn’t have to think about what to say, we simple said… “Wanna be fwends?” and there, we had a new friend. Maybe it’s just me and my awkwardness but I happen to think getting to know a person’s personality and speaking while in the presence of the person is a lot better than small talk and “screen talking.”

That was my opinion, why did I share it? I was genuinely surprised at how easy it was to talk to a person I knew nothing about and had never spoken to. Conversations with A1 are funny, entertaining, honest, and real. Slowly we learn things about each others’ character.

The Lord knows my needs, maybe I simply needed someone to really talk to, and I just didn’t know it. In that case the Lord answered my unspoken request.

He is good!

 

Passing moments

“For the Lord shall be thy confidence and shall keep thy foot from being taken”

~Proverbs 3:26

“Welcome back Sophie!”

“Why thank you.”

Yes, it really is me, reel it in. I thought I would write a blog today and share a couple of things with you readers. I may also be writing this off the boost of excitement yesterday gave me… which is where this post begins.

dad and the chi-chis

Yesterday we went to the annual Fête Foraine in the center of our small city. We were joined by one of Dominic’s friends and ended up staying two hours at this “fair.” We went on the bumper-cars (several times I might add), ate chi-chis, and went on a very thrilling ride. For a town the size of Châtellerault, I was not expecting it to have what it did, but as of yesterday I can now say that I have seen Châtellerault upside-down. after two rides in the spinner (which is not the actual name of the ride), my throat felt raw, in a great way, and Dominic might have been a little woozy. After one ride, well, Timo and Dominic’s friend may never ride it again. As for me, much to the annoyance of my younger brothers, I would have done it again; I guess that is a little more of my mother in me.

I would also like to thank God as I mention a wonderful day not too long ago.

through the country to the church

One Sunday, we made plans with Timo’s friend and his sister to spend the day at our house. I had met this girl one night when she came with her father to pick up her younger brother from our house, and since then we have gotten together a few times. We biked down to the church where we showed them around, played some music, and before we had left, we climbed the hedge in the back of the church grounds and waved to people driving by. What was somewhat comical was since we only had four bikes, Dominic had to ride his scooter while carrying his guitar case. What a sight, mind you it was only a 7-10 minute bike ride. Back at the house, we played some card games and just spent time and laughed together. I thank the Lord for sending me a friend that I can connect with and see on a more regular basis.

Now this has already been mentioned in some of my dad’s previous blog posts and on my instagram, but I’m going to retell it here.

My first day of university had been great! Don’t get me wrong, I am still in high school, but one Tuesday, I had decided to go with my dad to the University of Poitier on his last day as English professor (for this year anyway). He had two classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. the morning one was fine, to my dismay the students stared at me at first but then Dad

adding to my library!

told them that I was his daughter and I was going to be their guest. Well after that class, we had time to kill so we went to a book store where I might have gotten some books and then got lunch at KFC. Mmmm. However, It was the second class that made my day. The students came in and some lovely, chatty girls came and sat beside me and involved me in their conversation. Well the students had prepared for a party, they brought snacks, drinks, and one even brought his guitar. We had a blast. That had been the most amazing time I had had in a while, and will surely be something I will always remember.

I want to end this post by referencing the verse at the beginning of this post. This verse says something that I needed to hear. This verse says that the Lord is my confidence. Why did I need to hear this? I am a teenage girl, and God knows I have insecurities. Adding to that, I am just over one year away from graduating high school and still have no clue as to what I am doing. If I can be transparent, I lack a lot of confidence about myself and about my future.  A mighty God is telling me that He will be my confidence, why do I still worry? Synthetically, my thought takes me to Jeremiah 29:11 where I am told that He already knows the plans for me. Better? A little, but I am human and even with reassurance from my Father, I am still bound to worry.

I am not a confident person, so He instead will be my confidence. I am nervous and worry, but he knows my future.

Thy will be done!

Beginning with Blessings

I suppose much has happened since I last blogged, but I will not waste your time or my brain cells trying to recount it. “But boy, do I have some things to say.”See original imageHaving grown up in church, I have been accustomed to the change that the New Year brings not only to my daily life but also to my spiritual life. In Pentecost, it is normal to shake things up at the beginning of the year and search God’s guidance for the year to come. Well that is what happened here in France.

Prayer & Fasting

We (the Châtellerault church) designated three weeks as a time of fasting and prayer; we had two prayer meetings during the week, but every week, the days of those meetings were changed, in order to fall out of the habit that we, as Christians, can so very easily fall into. These days of prayer were very important for the church, as well my family, we wanted God to reveal to us His plan for the church and for our life. Our family’s position as AIMers can be rather unstable at times and we just do not know what step we should take.

To continue on the topic of blessings, throughout this special month, I have seen God bless either our family or our church in several ways; my mom had been waiting for a very important document for over a year, and it finally arrived, my dad was offered a job as a teacher in Poitiers, Dominic and I were able to purchase our very first phones, and a family that I had been praying for, started the New Year in church. My God is powerful and can do all things!

img_0715Our American Visitors

Now… it was my absolute pleasure to have been able to meet Sis. Cylinda Nickel and her daughter, Seanna, when they made a special trip to our part of Europe this past weekend. After they arrived on Saturday, we brought them into Paris, parked under the Louvre, and walked around the gardens before getting a Starbucks in the basement of the Louvre.

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Seanna and I in the fairy tale village

In order to show them a variety of sights in the small amount of time had, we took them on a boat tour. And because food is important, we ate on the terrace of a kebab shop on a small Parisian street.

Sunday afternoon, after our church service, we took our new American friends to the little village of Angles-sur-l’Anglin; they said it was like walking through a fairy tale (and it was).

On Monday, I accompanied my dad bringing Sis. Cylinda and Seanna back to Paris so they could catch a quick plane out. We stopped along the way at the “hunting lodge” of Francis I, and strolled around the grounds as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Upon arriving in Paris, we had some time to spare, so we took them on the metro.

Filling up with French pastries!

Filling up with French pastries!

We got off at Trocadero, where we took some pictures and ate French waffles and crêpes in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.

Then it was time to leave… 😦 We braved the Parisian traffic and the little men on mo-peds, and arrived at the airport. We said goodbye, and they were on their way. I was so happy to have met these amazing women, and I am thankful for the time they took to visit and encourage us.

 

Parisian adventures and Melun

“Paris is always a good idea” -Audrey Hepburn

img_6388

Paris by night

My dad goes up to Melun every month to teach at the France’s national Bible school, and this time, I decided to go with him.

The drive up

Since my dad had to teach on Saturday, we decided to leave Friday morning that way we could spend the day in Paris. The time it takes to travel from Châtellerault to Paris is about three hours,

img_6394

happily being “attacked” by pigeons

which is not that bad when you have Disney and Israel Houghton albums to blast through a speaker (I am an awesome car ride companion). After singing “friend like me” and “zero to hero” to the best of my abilities, and waving to random truck and bus drivers we finally arrived to our destination.

Paris

We parked the car in one of those nice underground Parking lots with great acoustics and went to wander around. We walked in front of Notre Dame, where pigeons attacked me (just kidding), and then strolled past the Hotel de Ville, which is not your simple North American parliament building. We then turned left, and started down the Rue de Rivoli  where I entered an H&M and walked out somewhat let down. Dad and I continued down the same street and found Forever 21, where dad followed and acted as a portable hanger as I aimlessly meandered through the maze which is Forever 21. I must admit, after an hour, I might not have walked out with everything, but I did not walked out with nothing…*yikes*

img_6397After my satisfying shopping trip, dad led the way to the Galleries Lafayette where I would see my very first fashion show. It was a great first experience, however, it never ceases to amaze me was fashion designers can come up with. After the show, we descended a few levels to where there was a Starbucks; there we sat, ate a cookie, drank a frappuccino, and watched the little people browse around.

We saw the Garnier Opera House, the Mogador Opera House, where we were supposed to see the play “The Phantom of the Opera” before it ironically was canceled because of a fire. When we decided it would be a good idea to eat, we stopped at a restaurant, where we ate outside; img_6400everything was great except for all the Parisians smoking around us.

Then it was time to see the Eiffel Tower; you cannot go to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower, plus I had never seen her lit up before. We rented some bikes and whizzed through the Paris traffic.Then there she was, tall, lit up and sparkling. It was beautiful, definitely worth almost getting lost by myself…

Church in Melun

img_6406Let’s fast forward to Sunday shall we. Dad was scheduled to preach in the Melun while Bro. and Sis. Nowacki were away, and he had asked me to find something that we could sing together, so we sang. Having caught a cold while in Paris, I was a little worried about sounding stuffed up, but everything went just splendidly. I have, in a way, quieted down since arriving in France, and for most people here, it was their first time hearing me sing, some told me they were pleasantly surprised (as was I), but I received the compliments with as little blushing as possible. After an incredible time in the presence of God, I was invited to eat at the church with the young people; and what an amazing and talented group of young people they are as well.

In the closure of this somewhat lengthy post, I would like to thank the young people in Melun who are always so kind to me and make me feel welcome, it means more than you know.

Summertime Sadness

Well my friends, summer is over and fall has begun, what a sad thing to think about.img_6342

My summer has been rather upside down. Because I had started school late last year, spent a prolonged Christmas and New Years break, and took a couple weeks off in March for my special visit back to the Great White North, I spent a lot of my summer vacation catching up on my schoolwork.

I still got my summer vacation, and I thank God for it, however it carried on until almost October. The reason being that I had to wait for my books to arrive from the U.S. and so I waited, very patiently I must add, until I realized that September was almost over. Towards the end I grew anxious, knowing that the later I started, the later I finished. img_6318

Finally, earlier this week, we heard a knock on the door… and a French gentleman, that smelled distinctly of smoke, carried in three, nice, book-sized boxes, “enfin!”.  Ever since, I have been slowly setting up my workstation (home-schooled), organizing my school books and binders, buying tissues for the many meltdowns to come (just kidding, I’m more like Elsa, “don’t let them in, don’t let them see), and preparing to start a new year– a process many young people know, love, and cherish. *ahh ha ha*

img_6341So as I materially prepare for school to start again, I am also mentally preparing myself. At the moment, I am excited to start school again, but I am also sure that excitement will not last long… it never does.

When ever I think about the future projects, reports, and essays, I remember that I only have two years left in grade school, then I will have to face the decisions that will shape my future, and once those decisions are made, I will look back and see just how easy I had it in high school.