Our Schedule:

Teaching English and Art together, putting on the GospelCafé concerts, prayer, meeting with our new French friends. It's a good life!

A complete listing of very specific requests for prayer can be found under "Prayer Requests."

For those just getting to know us, please visit the special sections to the right.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Play Ball!

Living in France has been a wild ride. It’s a good one that sometimes has curves or we get whacked in the head over something. But we’ve also experienced some great saving slides. In between all that, I’m waking up many nights around 1 am to 2 am through 5am since the World Series began and watching some fantastic baseball on mlbtv.com. Yes, it’s affected the rest of my schedule. But our English/art school is on vacay for over a week and who would have thought I could do this crazy thing by watching TV back home in the states and see my hometown team at the World Series facing the Giants. Goliath entered and David has his slingshot. We are now 3 games tied and tonight is the deciding game. Winner takes a huge trophy, lots of money and commercial deals and is Baseball’s World Champion in the USA for a year until everyone tries it again.

Most French know nothing about baseball. They don’t play it. They play basketball, and even have some American football teams. Americans are playing European soccer/futbal more than ever. Our civilizations are coming together more and more. But, why not baseball? Our baseball gloves , a softball (no bat though) were thrown in a moving box with our bocce balls and horsehoes as we prepared to leave Kansas for Europe. It’s time we teach our French, German, Swiss, Angolan, British, Irish & Guadeloupean friends how to play the game.

My KC Royals large blue and gold banner came in the mail today. Just in time. Do my neighbors in our town know why I’ve put this outside our 3 story building? Probably not. Maybe they will Google it. I hear words coming out of their mouths like “Google or Facebook” so I know they’re using the same social networks.

I’m more pumped up than ever, not just for baseball, but God is batting home runs out of the park for each person who is seeking him or believing in him.  Sometimes they don’t see the opportunities for a long time or don’t know what to do. Two new couples to our town and one of our church couples are coming to our weekly Book study.  All families are excited to have fellowship, looking to explore their love relationship with the Lord himself . 

One family is seeing how God is moving in their lives like never before. After 18 years of keeping it bottled up inside, attending mass because their wasn’t a Protestant church in their area, there is a new awareness and excitement to learn how Christ can make a daily difference. This is showing through to their children. Another is under conviction of the Holy Spirit. Russell and I helped one of these mom’s explain how to lead her daughter to Christ and she told her mom that she wanted to follow Jesus last week! An older son from one of the families is in one of our conversational groups and is wondering what is going on? “What are you talking about over at Russell and Carol’s?”, he asked his mom. He’s looking at his dad’s study book. As it comes to mind would you pray for these people God is bringing our way?

When the song “God Bless America” is sung at baseball games I am reminded how God is blessing and leading his people all over the world and saying, "You're Up Next". ...Carol

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Adrenaline rush!

It's school time again. We put off our start up date to September 29th because we had a lot of work to get ready for this week! Classes finally started whether I was ready or not. Our first week is over. It's Thursday night and we have thoroughly enjoyed it. (like always). I tend to do a little ringing of the hands in worry (in my mind) until classes are under way. There are sooo many details to attend to.

We have 10 classes for children in English and Art and 7 classes for older students and adults who can hold a conversation in English. Pretty exciting and daunting. Another English as a Second Language teacher told us recently that people who want this kind of learning can suck the life blood out of you with their demands. We do have to be careful with our time. We gave in on some areas of our schedule. For instance, a new Saturday morning class was arranged for working parents who can't get their children to fit into our work week schedule.

A woman came into the storefront/classroom on Tuesday asking if she could come to that night's new book study. I told her that it's called Teachings of Jesus, unlike all the other classes which are secular. "Yes", she said. "That is the one I want."

She said she her family had recently moved to our town 10 months ago. They didn't know there was a  Protestant church in the area and didn't hear of one so she began attending the nearby Catholic church. She was raised Catholic. Her life journey changed in her 20s and she told me that someone shared to her about Jesus coming to earth to sacrifice his life for her and how she could have a relationship with Him. She traveled to England for a while and was able to study the Bible. Her travels back home in Germany brought her to a Baptist church. When she received our flyer in the mail she realized not only could she practice her English but she could study the Bible.  "I told her of the Protestant church we were involved with nearby. Tears began to form in her eyes when she heard that. Her experience at this recent church left her feeling like she still couldn't find "community" and it was too "high church" and ritualistic for her family. She and her husband came that night back to the classroom and we had quite an enjoyable time.

We prayed with another new friend 2 days ago for her to be able to lead her 9 year old to the Lord. It sounds like she is ready. The mom really wasn't sure how to go about it. It was an affirming time.

 God, through our flyers, and association day brought two Christian families who recently moved here to us where we can lead them to a church, encourage them and to our new book study. Worry has changed to excited adrenaline. - Carol

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Hitchhiking Taxi and other cool conversations

In the United States it's generally frowned upon to pick up hitchhikers. Picking up hitchhikers is not new to us but I generally don't do it anymore by myself. I remember the time Russell came home late at night, 1 AM, getting off a job and picking up someone who lost his car at the gambling casino in Kansas City.

The Hitchhiking Taxi continues here in our village. It is very common for young adults and others to not have vehicles. It takes 35 minutes to walk up to our town from the gare (train station) so we see working women and men and young adults or teens hitchhiking.

We've been working very hard, as well as many others, to get ready for the annual trek to the community center for Association day. Lots of clubs and small businesses have a booth to sign-up everyone for activities they want to be involved in for the year. Saturday was a very busy day talking to families/singles, hugging children & speaking about our English and art.

I was "too pooped to ponder" (as Russell says) on Sunday and yet there was another Association day in the next town over. My trojan horse, or "ma honey" put on his hat and road off into the sunrise next door to sit with some of our friends at a table and pass out flyers and talk to people once again about English and art.

I want to back up a bit to give you an idea of what we've been doing after finishing up the last school year in July. We were getting ready for traveling, meeting and working in the US (MO, KS, IL, IA, CA) arrived July 22nd returning to France Aug. 20th. Early morning, the 22nd of August we left to drive to Budapest (fortunately with teammates helping with the drive heading through Austria, Germany & Hungary) . We had 6 days of European team training with all of our teams represented to study up on Leadership Development and a lot of other "good stuff". In other words, what do we look for in men and women leaders and how can we develop them on their journeys PLUS keep ourselves accountable with our teams. It was a great time getting to meet others, not only from Europe, but further away.

Needless to say we were tired when we arrived back to get ready for these association days. Saturday was completed with new sign-ups for our classes and we were hoping the next day would be too. Russell enjoyed meeting new people. One young man came to the table saying he was searching for something. More conversation was had, a Bible was shared and an invitation.

The end of the long, tiring day ma honey walked out and got in his car across the street near the gare. A young man in his 20s had his thumb out. The taxi driver opened the door and conversation flowed as they travelled up the hill.  "You are a pastor? I've never met a pastor. And certainly not one like this, in a car." He was fascinated by what we are doing in our church planting and spoke very good English. The young man told Russell that he thought they were destined to meet. All of a sudden Russell was revived.  ......Carol

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Urgent prayer request from Anne Graham Lotz

Here is a letter that I received today by email from Anne Graham-Lotz, Billy Graham's daughter. It is a time sensitive letter and an urgent call to prayer. Carol

Blow the trumpet...sound the alarm...for the day of the Lord is coming.  It is close at hand-- Rend your heart and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God...
Joel 2:1, 13  

As you may know, my husband is in declining health. I am no
longer traveling and speaking as much as I have for the last
26 years since I am staying home to care for him.  As a
result, I have had time to be quiet and listen more to the
whispers of the Spirit. He has revealed things to me in the
stillness that I'm not sure I would have heard in my
former busyness.

One of the things He has impressed on me is that we are
living at the end of human history as we know it. In light
of this, He has given me some practical assignments. One was
to be the Honorary Chair for the National Day of Prayer 2014
this past May. He gave me the message I was to deliver,
which was from Joel 1...the Day of the Lord is at hand. It
was a message warning that judgment is

Just recently, He has given me another assignment, which is
to call His people in our nation to prayer. This assignment
came indirectly from a Syrian pastor through a National Day
of Prayer attendee. In obedience, I am blowing the
trumpet...sounding the alarm...issuing a national prayer
initiative entitled 7 7 7: An Urgent Call to Prayer. 
The Call is for God's people to pray for each of
the first seven days in the seventh month-July 1-7. Then on
the 7th day, July 7, we are to pray and fast for 7 hours.

The purpose is... For God the Father to restrain, protect, and
deliver His people from the evil that has come into our
world. For God the Son to be exalted, magnified, and glorified in His church, in our nation, and in our lives. For God the Holy Spirit to fall on us in a fresh way, compelling the church to repent of sin and our nation to return to faith in the living God, resulting in a great national spiritual awakening.I'm asking you to
partner with me, and send out the word to everyone on your
email address list, or who follows you on facebook or
twitter. I will be sending out an eBlast this week and next, which you can access at http://www.annegrahamlotz.com/events/urgent-call-to-prayer/.
Please feel free to use it, and place your name in the
paragraph that includes mine to make it more personal for
your constituents. Feel free also to forward this

I will provide a prayer I have written for each of the 7
days to help unite us in one spirit and one voice as we cry
out to God. Those who receive the eBlast are invited to sign
up for the daily email prayers. Please be assured there is
no other agenda in this initiative. This is not about
promoting anything or anyone.  This is all about
calling God's people together to pray, before it's
too late, and judgment falls on our nation. 

Anne Graham-Lotz 

Monday, June 30, 2014

Driving in France - another hurdle which can be overcome.

Recently we were turned down to exchange our driver's licenses from Kansas with a French one. We have a friend in Claire - who we call our "woman of peace" who has gone before us in so many situations in helping us with our school and everyday life. She has helped us with many governmental things. Once again Claire has come to our rescue. She has worked at the Hotel de Ville (city government office) in Versailles for many years (Versailles is the prefecture for our area). Recently she decided to take a year off. (can you imagine?) She can return later to her job. She wants to spend time with her older children and especially with her 9 year old Guillaume. The French allow a mother to stay at home for a number of years (15 if I remember right - someone correct me if I'm wrong) while raising children and can go back to their jobs later. I know, it seems hard to believe from a USA perspective.

Claire looked on the French diplomat website and found that, INDEED, Kansas has a reciprocal agreement with France. I don't know what our sous-prefecture was looking at when they said we didn't but we are going with Claire. Let's hope when we show this webpage to the office - via letter as they requested - unless Claire intervenes even more - then we may have strong reason to celebrate. I have been emotional about this whole ordeal. Believe me, it is an ordeal - not that it can't be overcome but I'm just trying to drive in this town with a stick shift. I was practicing with my son-in-law Joe with his car in the states so we are making progress. It's been since 1979 since I drove a stick.

I really didn't want to have to pay tons of money (1000 euros per person minimum if we pass the tests and could go up to 1500) and go back to driving school and take 2 exams. Using the analogy of a track runner, we have all been jumping over many hurdles in life and we are hoping to jump this hurdle with more ease and less cost.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My feet were made for walking and that's just what I'll do...

This is Day 1 of the Paris Prayer Conference. It's France Vie's 13th year. It's not a huge crowd maybe 60 or so. Each day is a little different. Many are coming from far away. They will hear about France's Christian and Secular history from French leaders. There are 5 days of venturing around downtown and out in the suburbs of Paris to hear from other leaders in their locations for example and participate. Our "protestante evangelique l'eglises are in and around the city.

We will personally get to talk and walk with the 4 groups Thursday and Friday about our work helping young French Christians who want to start a protestant church in certain areas in our region. We have been coming alongside them mentoring and in the Word together, praying with them and encouraging them whenever we can.

One of our focuses this week will be sharing about our English and Art school. Using our background and experience in this area has been great and a fun way to get to know people, and help children and adults advance their skills. Our neighbors have been excited to participate. There is much to be grateful for what has been accomplished so far in less than a year.

Friday, June 13, 2014

"Oh the times they are a changing."

I needed to spend some time back in the states three weeks ago to come alongside our daughter and son-in-law and was able to spend a little time with other family before returning back to France. Russell took over my classes and everything, really, while I was gone. By the time I got back and acclimated again (one week later), we needed a break. 

Saturday June 7th, was the last GospelCafé, of the season. Each concert was unique and our team needs to assess how we will move forward. We always had gospel music with one secular song each evening that might be familiar to guests. This last concert the band's secular song was, Bob Dylan's, "You Gotta Serve Somebody". Wow! powerful. A lot of whooping and hollering went on after that one and from the staff at the restaurant. So true.

Change is brewing here in Chevreuse. Summer is upon us. (weather wise, but the children are in school until July 5th so I have 2 more weeks of English/Art classes.) Everyone is into summer mode, it's noisier, motorcycles are out, move over velos and people looking to leave. We had hoped to have one more concert this season as part of  "La fete de la musique" but it was too much work for us to get it ready. Every city participates in this and in every town of France one hears music. 

Manu, our teammate, and the driving force of this project, in recent months has had to put in many hours per week on his script and copy writing job in Paris to fulfill his work requirements. We really need a bigger team. 

A two day trip to Normandy during this past weekend of the 70th anniversary of D Day (and our own 34th) was quite exciting, sobering and emotional.  We had never ventured to the coast and decided it was time. Only 2 1/2 hrs of a lovely countryside drive awaited us. The apartment we rented in Caen was right near a German prison who held French prisoners during their occupation; a sober reminder of those days. Who would have thought to have neighborhoods surrounding this un-used prison. Our journey took us to Pointe du Hoc where the thousands of mostly American, British and Canadian troops landed along with smaller numbers from other countries. The crators and German bunkers or remnants thereof, are still there. The coast is absolutely beautiful and the English channel can be seen on the other side. The lyrics to another Bob Dylan song, The times they are a changin" could speak to 1944 on that June 6th night. The coast that night was not beautiful and many men were slaughtered as they reached the top, or drowned before they could get up the cliff because equipment was too heavy. It was an 80 day campaign to change everything. And they did.

We visited the American cemetery and 19 heads of state came for this special weekend and visited or spoke at various sites around these beaches. By the time we got there they were tearing down the bleachers at the cemetery. Flowers from all over the world were still laying about. Junior High children made wooden plaques for their individual soldiers that were on Omaha beach at it's memorial. We are so grateful to the French who have lovingly cared for our soldiers. Each tombstone is assigned to a family who take care of it and the grounds are immaculate.

The town of Caen was bombed by the allied forces to take over the German sites. Leaflets were distributed by Airforce from the sky and unfortunately many did not get those leaflets. 20,000 civilians died that day. The Caen memorial museum is the most well done WWII museum in the world.

I had plucked a yellow camillia off a bush at the American cemetery on our way out. That one bush had 1000s of flowers on it. The flower was tucked behind one ear and we were transported back in time as musique wafted out of the radio on our way to Chevreuse listening to 1942 Glen Miller Swing.  In French the disk jockey shared how Glen Miller was a formidable musician and the troops loved him. It doesn't get any better than this.


Morning Walk After Hiatus

I've had to take a hiatus from my morning routine of walking and praying through Chevreuse. I somehow injured my leg scraping and painting a neighbor's gate. (Any of you who know her, don't you dare tell!) Carol was in the States for a couple of weeks and it was difficult even walking up and down our stairs. Then we went to Normandy for our 34th wedding anniversary, etc.
     This morning I got up and decided it was time to go back to old habits. It felt in some ways like I was starting over. But it felt good to be out and seeing the village begin to stir. I always pray for the specific people as I pass them in the street. Sometimes I get a real impression to pray for specific things for these people. Sometimes there is a sense of urgency, sometimes not. As I passed a man out walking his dog, the phrase "safe travel" came to mind. Don't know where he and his dog will wind up today, but he was prayed for. The Holy Spirit enables us to engage with the culture around us in ways that we cannot hope to explain to them. But I pray that someday this man will know what it is like to hear the Spirit whisper undeniable things to him.
     I walked over to a hill on the other side of the valley. Standing on a country path, looking north across the river at Chevreuse, with the fortress plainly visible opposite me, another phrase popped into my head. "The measure of a man is what he sees from a high place." Sobering.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Joyeuses Pâques!

We woke up this morning where one says, "He is Risen!", and the other - "He is risen indeed!"
(Manu, our French teammate told me The French may say, "Christ est ressuscité! Il est vraiment ressuscité!) Vraiment can mean "indeed", and comes from truth.
     This song immediately came into my being. I was so surprised and quite happy. I sang it for Russell and he said, "I can't believe you remembered all the words." I usually make up words or twist half of them.

Here it is composed by Alfred Ackley 1933:
I serve a risen Savior He's in the world today.
I know that he is living whatever man may say.
I see his hand of mercy I hear his voice of cheer
And just the time I need him He's always near.
He lives! He lives! Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know he lives He LIVES W-i-t-h-i-n My Heart!
(ha ha - for those of you who know this song, can't you just hear me singing it at the top of my lungs?)

We had a lovely Pâques day. Our service was held in a beautiful old farm that houses special needs adults. There is a place for worship on the lovely grounds and that is where we were. It was supposed to be rainy but the sun came out and it was glorious. There is a lake or river near the buildings and of course it's green everywhere in the Paris area with jonquils, poppies, some tulips, ranunculus and pansies along our way as we travelled by car. Driving up the hill we saw wisteria springing forth with a profusion of purple hanging over fences and walls.
     In France, the people at our church eat together following the service. We have quite an international group so many of the dishes were recipes from Angola, Guadeloupe, France, German, US, etc. (baguettes, green salads, couscous, ratatouille, large chunks of fish, black-eyed peas, spinach, beef bourguignon, rice, chicken or maybe it was dinde (turkey) I didn't see it. It was gone by the time we got to the table. Desserts were tartes, one layer simple cakes, Tropezian - oh la la - creme filled cake with crystalized sugar on the top. (from St. Tropez), pineapple upside down cake, my cookies, etc. They serve cheeses at the end and then coffee for those who want it. They had nescafé in packets to add hot water. Some of the men objected and our french friend Carole went back home to get a real coffeepot and serve the real thing. That made them happy.
     I made Tartiflette (France - potatoes, lots of smoked ham bits called lardons, oignon, garlic, & reblochon cheese layered) and Bunny Butt cookies (USA). hee hee. I'll have to see if a picture turned out of my cookies and I'll add it later. I couldn't find jelly beans here to help with the bunny feet so I used icing which was a little more sloppy then I would have liked. The crowd devoured them very fast. This is the third time I've been here over Easter. This is Russell's second. It's hard to believe!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

May your home always be too small to hold all your friends!

Being in the marketing/advertising and "other" category of business for 35 years we have always striven (is that a word? like driven? no) strove? (archaic), strived to give our readers, clients and target market plenty to chew on when it concerns what we are doing. We've taken a back seat to this blog for a while and are going to offer the blog to those who want to continue by adding a password. Please let us know.

We have been a wee bit busy getting our Gospelcafé concerts off the ground and promoting more of our classes, doing logo designs for a lot of people lately within ministry and for two of our children and their freelance businesses. There will be offerings of english/art camps (1 week each)  this April and July during "vacance".  Another flyer needs to be designed and distributed. Here is the front and back sides of our flyer/poster.

Prayer walking is a daily occurrence for Russell. He's been walking throughout the town about an hour or hour and a half around 6am - 7:30am. I'm not an early riser and the winter weather puts a little kink in my "getty up" at such an early hour. The sun is starting to shine and the jonquils are out along with other beautiful colors. The birds are singing and so I have joined him sometimes in the afternoons. We have a letter to the Mairie's office to check out some locations for our church plant as possiblities. We are too crowded and the owner does not always keep up on his bargain to let us meet at his location. Government buildings are closed during the holidays. This makes it difficult for visitors and even members to know where we are meeting. Some Sundays, if most show up, with children, there can be 60 people! The little theatre is really too small.

Yesterday, Russell and a new friend were distributing flyers together. It's been fun for them to get better acquainted and they have the ceramics gallery in town. He will soon begin English classes with Russell. They have offered their kiln for us to fire our children's pottery and generously gave us clay! We now have about 30 little animals ready to fire. So cute! We will walk them down the street for pottery wheel demos at the end of this month.

I began reading the book of John with a woman last week grappling with a particular verse on grace. I'm hoping we can clarify that. That is a difficult passage for some here. She asked for Russell to weigh in also. I enjoy my times with the women and children. Including this young man who is starting, we have 30 students now!

A is retired from the textile industry. I've learned so much about weft, warp, weave, jacquard, damask and looms. She wants me to see her loom and what she is working on. Very interesting. Her husband is getting quite disabled now and can't get around so we offered to work in her garden or do something inside with her "honey do" list.

She brought me flowers yesterday from her garden and said, "...because you don't have a garden or anywhere to have one". She and another friend said I could come and work in their gardens any time I wanted to. Maybe I will. Jonquils and other flowers are popping up now. So pretty. I am determined that I will have window boxes with flowers this spring. That means I have to have curtains with my shutters permanently open to do this.

Our new anglephone friend came over yesterday for lunch while her kids were in school. It was so fun to talk about her area of the world and the international community here, her husband working far away, We chatted about the Ireland Cultural Center downtown and one of my student's mom's works there. She's Irish. This community seems to be well connected. Maybe we'll spend a little time with them on St. Patty's day as the French don't celebrate this holiday. It was a delightful afternoon.

Here's an Irish blessing, "May love and laughter light your days and warm your heart and home. May good and faithful friends be yours where ever you may roam. May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures. May all life's passing seasons bring the best to you and yours. Carol Button Barr (Kelly Sinclair O'Sullivan McCune ) Ya can't get much more Irish than that!