I did one of these a while back and I really enjoyed making the list, so I thought since I'm in a new phase I'd do another one. When I made my initial list of the Top 10 Things That Have Been Occupying My Mind Lately I only came up with 4 items (since most everything on my mind these past few weeks falls under category number one: FRENCH), but on further thought I've come up with 7. So I'm hoping that after typing the list out, I will be inspired with the final three (and if not, I may just make something up).
1. FRENCH. I know, shocker! Living in France, studying French, watching movies in French, learning French praise songs, wandering the shops, skimming the newspaper, flipping through the diction . . . ALL of it is in French! I am currently eating, sleeping, and breathing French. Some moments are discouraging. Others are victorious (if you are new to this blog, just skim down to the past few posts for a good laugh at all the stupid things I've managed to do and say since I've arrived).
I have to say I think I've learned more in the past two weeks that would fall in the realm of "spiritual" than I have of French language. This process is not just about learning a new way of communication, it is part of the maturing process. I pulled out my (English) copy of The Green Letters: Principles of Spiritual Growth by MJ Stanford and reread a little excerpt this morning:
Norman Grubb shares a good word on the principle of labor and rest: "Take for an example the learning of a foreign language. You are faced with a series of hieroglyphics in a book, you hear a medly of sounds around, which mean absolutely nothing. Yet you know that it is a language that can be learned. More than that, you have gone there to learn it. Now that is the first rung in the ladder of faith. However weak or waveringly, in your heart you do believe that you can and will get it. Otherwise, obviously you wouldn't try to learn it. So you plod on. Many a time faith and courage fail, the mind is weary and the heart is heavy, and you almost give up. But not quite. To give up is faith's unforgivable sin. On you go at it. MOnths pass. It seems largely to go in one ear and out the other. Then--the length of time depends on the difficulty of the language and the ability and industry of the pupil of course--a miracle seems to happen. The day or period comes when, without your hardly realizing it, what you are seeking has found you; what you are trying to grasp has grasped you! You just begin automattically to speak the langauge, to think it, to hear it. What was an incomprehensible jumble of sounds without, has become an ordered language within the mind."He goes on to compare this process with our journey toward Christian maturity through the Holy Spirit. I know that it will come. Developing new neuropathways will not be easy. I already leave at the end of the day exhausted . . . but the Holy Spirit is helping me to keep perspective and recognize that His grace is suffencient . . . and abundant.
2. JESUS CALLING. When I was finishing up my training at SIM's US office two April's ago, the women from the Member Care department gave me a fabulous gift. It's a little orangy-brown devotional called Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The pages are short, but the words are such a gift! Each devotional is writen from Jesus' point of view . . . taken from the scriptures that are included. Everyday there is something included (often the entire page) that speaks to what is happening in my life. For example, the devotional for August 23, which was the day of my commissioning service at my sending church, was about entrusting those you love into the care of Jesus. It was exactly what I needed to read at that moment in order to say some very difficult goodbyes. This book is definately on my list of Books-Every-Disciple-of-Jesus-Should-Own (along with The Green Letters mentioned above).
3. 2-HOLE PUNCHES. I'm pretty sure that a few days ago I blogged about not being able to find a single-hole-punch anywhere, and when I asked about, people responded as if I was crazy. I considered getting the double, but in the midst of my mini culture-shock episode I decided against it. Anyway, the other day I came back to my room and there on the floor in front of my door was a little box. One of my classmates had bought me a double hole punch!! I know it's the silliest little thing, but it's my first real gift since being here in France. It made me so happy! (And I just found out this morning who it was . . . so I think I need to make a very holey thank you note!)
4. FLASH CARDS. This is what I do with my free time. I make and review flash cards. One night at dinner, some of the already French speakers went around everyone's plate and taught me the words for the different items. So I have flash cards with "green beans"and "mince meat" and "peas" and "carrots" and . . . well you get the idea.
5. SKYPE. Skype is free "phone" service that is used online. I have been able to phone friends for FREE all over the world! I got see my niece and nephews the other day via webcam! B even sang a little song for me . . . she's got great moves! It is such a blessing to be able to connect and hear voices and see faces! Makes the world seem a bit smaller.
6. ONLINE SERMONS. It is very hard to sit in church when you don't understand anything being said. But through the miracle of the internet, I am able to get some soul feeding every week from my home church. Every Sunday morning at 9:30 and 11 EST, Fellowship Baptist Church livestreams their sermons. Can't make it at that time, or your connection isn't fast enough, no worries! There's a media page that allows you to catch up on old messages. Right now their going through a series called Conversations on God and Christianity.
7. THE COLOR RED. I absolutely love the color red. And not just any old boring, mass produced red. But red-red. Deep, real, stunning red. Like swiss-army knife red. GORGEOUS!
8. NUTELLA. If you're reading this and you say, Nutella? What the heck is Nutella? Then go get your car keys and head to the closest peanut butter aisle. No it's not peanut butter . . . nutella is what brussel sprouts will taste like in Heaven! Nutella has only recently been readily available in the States, and may possibly be the nearest solution to world peace we have this side of eternity. You can put it on bread, use it in place of ganache, dip apple slices in it, or just eat it straight from the jar. I will warn you, the chocolatey-hazelnuty joy is quite addictive . . . but it can't be too many points on the weight watchers scale.
Okay, so I came up with one extra. My mind is pretty blank at the moment. Think I need a nap before I start studying again. À bientôt!