Crunch Day

This is it, the day that all the sorting, packing, arranging and general getting together must be done, because tomorrow we leave, at 5:30am. No more putting anything off! It’s all a bit stressful I must admit. But as God said to Paul when he was stressed about his physical issues:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

We do feel very weak at the moment and very much in need of God’s power. OK, time for a praying walk to bring it all to God…

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Joyeux Noël

A Happy Christmas to everyone as we remember the day when God’s eternal plan swung into action as He sent His Son to live with us and to die for us. Such love, such grace, such mercy!

I’m pleased to report that my cold is a lot better, should be gone soon I think. The sorting, list-making and packing are going OK, but there’s still a lot to do.

Today we take a break to spend time with Joanna’s family.

Greugh!

Sorting, packing, making lists, changing lists, working out routes, thinking and planning… all with a really horrible cold. My head feels awful but I need to plough on. Thankfully Joanna has not caught it off me.

Every time I look in the car boot of our friends (who are kindly taking us to Massy on Tuesday) the space looks smaller! But we will get there, we will be able to take all that we really need.

There have been so many encouragements, little things which have happened, been done, been said, which tell us that God is in this. In a week’s time we’ll be in Massy, starting God’s new adventure for us. A little while longer and all the strains of preparation will feel a long time ago.

Right, back to it…

 

Flashback: The Gazelle And The Elephant

This story is from 18 February 2014:

One day Stephen the gazelle walked over to a group of other gazelle and said “Shall we run?”

All the other gazelle began to bounce up and down in excitement and with shining eyes began to shout and sing “Whoo-hoo, yeah, let’s run, we want to run, running is what we do, man! Oh wow, let’s go right now, let’s run, let’s run, let’s run, we can’t wait! Go, go, go, go, what’s the delay?”

“Hold it,” said Stephen, “We should ask the elephants. It’s only polite, they’re our friends, we live here together on this plain.” “Huh,” said the other gazelle, “good luck with that one!” “Aw, come on,” said Stephen, “We should give them a chance. Everyone can change, remember.”

Stephen went over to where the elephants were lying, asleep, in the middle of the dirt road which ran, straight as a die, toward the far horizon.

“Hi guys,” said Stephen, brightly, “Me and the others are going to run. Come with us, it’s going to be totally fantastic!” Snoring, deep, loud elephant snoring, was all that Stephen could hear. He went to each elephant in turn, lifting up huge, grey ear flaps and shouting “Hey, come and run with us, it’s going to be great! Come on, let’s go!” Nothing.

Stephen tried everything: he pushed, he tickled, he kicked, he even jumped up and down on those sleeping elephants. Nothing, no response. He lifted an elephant eyelid and blew in. Nope. Nil, zilch, nada.

Wait! He could hear it! A great big huge, loud elephant yawn. A pair of massive elephant eyes slowly opened.

“Beat it!” the owner of the eyes grunted to Stephen, “We’re not interested in your stupid gazelle games.” And with that the snoring began again in earnest.

Stephen walked back over to the other gazelle, who were still bouncing up and down in excitement. His heart was overwhelmed with sadness. Soft gazelle tears began to drop to the ground. He turned to look back at all the huge rumbling, grunting grey lumps asleep on the road and waited a moment. Finally, Stephen breathed a huge sigh. He took a massive breath, filled his lungs with the fresh, clean air of the plains and yelled to the other gazelle “Come on, let’s run, let’s run, let’s RUN and RUN and RUN!”

With that the whole group of gazelle tore off towards the horizon, leaping and yelling and singing with such excitement, blazing on at an incredible speed. Back on the road a grey eyelid half-opened at the noise. “Harrumph!” And the snoring returned…

“From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” (John 6:66)

Gazelle? Or elephant…?

So, what about all of us? Do we truly want to run after God with absolutely everything that we are? To live exactly as God intended us to live, every single moment of every single day?

For Joanna and I that’s s big challenge at the moment. We could easily move to France and just enjoy living in a wonderful country, quietly forgetting, or downsizing, the vision that God has given us. Please pray for us, that we’d stay true to God’s vision and keep running and running and running and running…

Blood, Stones…

At last! I’ve been waiting for ages and ages for four refunds from suppliers to my food business to come in, so that I could start the formal process of closing the business down. Promises were made… and broken. Emails exchanged, more promises… Then finally yesterday the last payment came in. “Like getting blood out of a stone” is very apt in some cases.

So, now it’s a flurry of activity getting accounts information ready, filling in forms and so on: trying to do all the stuff now that I won’t be able to do from France.

The to-do list has had some serious work: we’re down to around 30 items now, which is a good thing as it’s less than 10 days till we go!

We had our last French lesson with our tutor on Thursday, which was happy and sad at the same time. She and her fiancé have become good friends over the months we’ve been going there, and we have learnt so much. Hopefully we’ll meet up again in France!

Commissioned!

Last Sunday, 13 December, was our commissioning service at our Church: Brook Lane Community Church in Downham. It was the most amazing time, something which we will cherish for years to come.

We were really encouraged that so many friends from far and near were able to be there. It was wonderful to be prayed out so enthusiastically. There were the inevitable embarrassing words, but Joanna and I managed to get our own back by subjecting everyone to our singing, in French! The Worship Team did such a good job of accompanying us that we’re thinking of kidnapping them and taking them to France. We’ll miss you!

bonvoyageWe had a great Brook Lane shared lunch afterwards, and a lovely sister in  Christ cooked this gorgeous cake for us. Wow!

Suppose we really have to go now…  🙂

Launch Approaches…

launch

Yes… scary or what? Last week we sat down and wrote out our to-do list of things we needed or wanted to do before we leave for France. I just checked and although a lot of things have been crossed off, there are still a total of 65 items on the list. Gulp.

One of the triumphs has been ordering our French SIMS for our mobile phones, from Free (I wish it was, but it’s good value nevertheless). Very easy to do online, and the SIMs should be waiting for us when we arrive at Les Cèdres. We get a huge data allowance (50GB/month), so will be using our phones as mifi devices to get internet connectivity in the flat, saving the cost of broadband and a landline.

A not so triumphant moment was in Bromley High Street yesterday. We’d been out for lunch to celebrate our anniversary (16 years: Joanna’s a brave and wonderful woman!) and had temporarily gone separate ways to do things before meeting up again. I walked out of the restaurant thinking “Hmmm, feel quite full for such a simple meal.” A minute of two later it was “I don’t feel too well” and by the time I got to the bottom of the High Street I felt very unwell indeed.

Thank you so much, Dreams, for letting me sit down and providing a couple of glasses of water, while Joanna went to get the car. After a few hours sitting calmly at home and drinking lots of water I felt much better. Back to 100% now. I won’t tell you where we lunched, but we won’t be returning!

OK, back to that to-do list. Next up: RIP some more CDs from the music collection (can’t justify space to store CDs!).