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

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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,

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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.

 

Pas de Pluie à la Puye

This past weekend we (dad, Timo and I) went to a farm… a french farm, which really is not any different than your average farm.IMG_6122

This was not the first time that I had been to this lovely, private estate in La Puye, a little village about 30 minutes from the house. However, our reason for being there should be mentioned, seeing as it explains why we were at a random French person’s house.

One day, dad found a “help wanted” sign on a website, obviously curious, he clicked on it. The ad belonged to a French couple who were looking for a caretaker to look after their animals while they went away. Well dad likes animals and decided to contact the couple and they got him to give them a hand!

IMG_5841Bringing us back to the present; This past weekend was dads’ third time at the farm and my second time. We arrived on Saturday, with the animals already taken care of for the day, giving us the whole day to kick back and relax. This private French farm allowed the boys to do some swimming. I, on the other hand, preferred to stay in the shade, under the protection of the trees, so I sat in a hammock and swung as I read a book and listened to some tunes.

There is something about the country that drags people to their beds earlier than normal. I went to bed at 10:00. Fun fact: if you ever stay in a medieval French house, with stone walls, pray you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night; you will be walking through a black void.

IMG_6099(It is 6:30 a.m.) *peacock crows* yes, that is right, I said peacock. I am not saying they didn’t have a rooster, in fact, they had several, they just were not loud enough. The peacock was the one that woke us up for the Sunday morning chores. We had to feed the goats, chickens, pigs, sheep, and the two monstrously large great Danes. Then we had to bring hay to the horses, watering it down first because Gracioso has allergic reactions (uggh, needy horse).IMG_5889

We did it though, even if all I was able to do was follow and watch as the boys zig-zagged from pen to pen. We finished up the chores and headed back to the house to pick up the rest of the family in time for church.

 

Cherish Conference

All-righty, I said in my previous blog that I would expand on how my last Cherish conference went.

Cherish conference had always been one of the highlights of the year for me. It was a time where girls from all around the district could gather and just be girls (with the exception of Friday night, when boys escort the ladies down the aisle). 

The conference was always spread out over the weekend, from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. Since the conference started on Friday evening, it gave the girls from all over the district time to travel from their homes to Saint John (my home town) where this occasion was held. Since I was already in the region, I had all day to “prepare.”Matt_V

Friday night came. For the first ceremony, each girl was escorted down the center aisle by a handsome young man (good job, guys!) with the exception of the “no boys allowed” group who would rather skip the boys, and walk with each other. Once every girl had walked down the aisle, we blessed the food and went to fill our bellies. Following the meal, we returned into the sanctuary to hear some great words from Sis. Kathy Leaman.crown_H

The final part of the service was the coronation ceremony, the most emotional time of the conference. Each 15 year old girl is called up to the platform while someone reads a couple words that describe her, what she likes, and how she is serving God. Every girl then receives a rose and a crown, symbolizing that they are a daughter of the king, and then files down to the front of the altar where they are prayed over.

I am not an emotional person but there was something that hit me in that service: I would not be coming back to future Cherish conferences… this was my last one.

Saturday was really where all the activities happened, there is always a theme and this time the theme was Treasure… as in buried treasure.choir_B

The two workshops I chose to do were (a) Sunday-school decoration and (b) choir. At the end of the day, every group got to perform/present what they did in their particular sessions.

Then it was over… “now what?” ; my coronation was a sign that I am growing up. Sure that part of my life is over, now it is time to see what else God has in store for me.

the return

 

For some who do not know I have been the Canada for the past two weeks, I went “home.”

For the first five days my mom and I stayed in Moncton and visited with my grandmother, and my uncle & aunt. The days  we spent there were probably the most relaxing days out of the whole two weeks; for me at least.

Wednesday is when all the excitement started happening. The plan was to drive down to Saint John and be there in time for church, but…. it just so happened that the church’s annual business meeting was that night so there would be no youth service. I was obviously disappointed by this turn of events and was talking to one of my friends about it. She decided that she would try to round up some of the scattered youth. Well, after we had finished with the appointments my mom had scheduled for Wednesday, we headed to MY big meeting. IMG_4337

We all met at Starbucks, (of course) where I got to reconnect with my youth group again and nearly gave my best friend a heart attack. All in all it was a great night.

Cherish conference was the next big event on our schedule and the main reason for our trip, but I will talk more about that in a second post… see ya soon!

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IMG_4579Sunday night had to be one of the highlights of “the return”.  After an amazing church service we (the youth and I) went to Boston Pizza. Seeing as there were a lot of us spread across a long table, my desire to talk to everyone was limited. When most of the people left around 11 p.m. a couple stayed behind and we talked in the almost empty restaurant until midnight. It is times like those that I treasure.

IMG_1555The time did come for us to leave, and though it was a little hard to leave again, this place would always be my home.

 

 

Dog-on-it … vs … Doggonit

“Dominic, Timo, wake up it is 7 a.m. we have to walk the dog.”

Yes, the dog that I have been wanting since I was a child well… we have him. Some people might have heard of our attempt at being dog owners last August; to say the very least it did not really turn out, making it harder to convince momma to give the “dog thing” another chance.

IMG_4106The story starts with my dad looking on Chatellerault’s animal shelter website and coming across “Pollux,” a gray, three year old, fluffy canine. His description had listed him as a Tibetan Terrier even though the employees were not 100% sure.

Well you can probably guess what happened about a week later… What I was not ready for, was being woken up by whining and barking at 12:30 in the morning; making the first few days hard and frustrating. Since then he has stopped and I have been able to get my beauty sleep, (thank the Lord.)

Having to re-train him to our family’s rhythm will be the most challenging part, of course, but you know what? I am happy.

I have never been happier to be forced outside before 11 a.m…. or 12 a.m… or one… it’s at those times that I’m tempted to say “doggonit!”