Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Newsletter

I’m constantly reminded that one of the great things about being married to Francois is that we see things totally oppositely, and that he balances me out. You see, I am much more pragmatic and logical while he is more… well, relational. I hate to admit it. This issue most recently surfaced when I was intent on writing our next one-page-snapshot-of-ministry-with-enough-white-space-so-people-will-read-it newsletter . Then yesterday I received a friend’s two page, small font, verbose but exciting and interesting update on her life as a whole and thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I know you love and care for Francois and I, so here is more of a “panoramic shot” of our lives. (This is the blog version of a newsletter that went in the mail....)

The big question is often, “so how is the house coming along?” We bought a major fixer upper in April and we are slowly making it our home while living in it. We have heat in some rooms, and enough living space to have people over for dinner or stay in our guest room. We even had a progressive Thanksgiving, hosting appetizers and then moving to Francois’ sister’s home for dinner. The most recent beautification projects were tiling a tub surround (thanks to Francois’ dad for so much help) and replacing our broken picture window in the front. The next big things are finishing the ductwork to put heat in various rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors and installing the tile in the 2nd floor bathroom.

Francois is taking a few classes this semester towards a PhD in Education. He is doing well in his classes and spends a lot of time researching, reading, writing and philosophizing. In search of a dissertation topic, Francois posed an idea to one of his professors, who thought his questions were great and is helping him form his thoughts into a “juicy problematic.” He has another year of classwork before he officially starts the dissertation, which could then take another 3-4 years. Like sea kayaking this summer, Francois is practicing the discipline of long obedience in the same direction.

I tend to carry stress inadvertently; and now that I say it like that, I bet I’m not alone. But, I intentionally let things go from my mind and heart, but somehow my body doesn't get the message. I get headaches and my back pain gets worse. So, I recently took a few yoga classes at a local church and loved it! I thought I’d be bored out of my gourd, but the sole focus on breathing and stretching is a great release of the stress I tend to carry without knowing it. It is a great way for me to empty myself—but not to BE empty. I empty myself to be filled with the power of God in my life –and the stressors fade in comparison to the love the Creator of the Universe has for me.

I love our families. We are really blessed. We saw Francois’ mom for Thanksgiving. We are looking forward to spending the holidays in the Carolinas –NC with the Barron clan for Christmas and SC with JF and Trish Guilleux. My Aunt gets our extended family together now every October. Here’s a picture from that fun day of eating too much, apple picking, and catching up with cousins, aunts, uncles, etc.

I am so thankful for friends, too. There are just so many people who love and care for us in so many different ways. Francois and I went to his 20th High School Reunion last weekend. Not only did it make me want to know where my high school buddies are these days, but it made me appreciate the friends we have gained along the way—many of them are you. We are amply blessed with friends here in Pittsburgh, the day to day kind of have-you-over-for-birthday-brownies-and-ice-cream-friends that will be in our lives for a long time.

I heard Lauren Winner speak and she was reflecting on consumerism and the abundance of God. It stuck with me when she said that there are many things that we can have an abundance of that won’t leave others without. So, we are thankful for you and wish you the richest of holidays in the ways we can all have abundance and there’s still more to go around—in peace and joy and hope and love.

Conferencing this Fall

Little Rock, Arkansas
Assoc. of Experiential Education International Conference

The AEE is the largest professional conference in our field. It is an international association where all worldviews and ideas converge on the umbrella subject of “experiential” education, of which adventure programming is a part.

Francois, and colleague Sean Purcell presented on “Rethinking judgment”. Judgment is central to leadership. Good judgment allows us to take students safely into dangerous terrain. It allows us to know when loving means pushing a group or student on an issue, having a hard conversation, or standing by as they make mistakes.

Good judgment is what we try to teach staff in trainings. In their presentation, Sean and Francois shared how Christian philosophers and a Biblical worldview can add a richness and Truth to the way we teach leaders about judgment. They practiced being salt and light in the field of adventure education.

Orlando, Florida
Ivy Jungle Network, Annual Conference

The Ivy Jungle Conference is campus ministry central. It is where people who work with college students gather to share ideas, encourage one another and learn how to best serve and reach the ever-changing campus climate and student culture.

Joy presented on “Adventure Programming: engaging students: heart, mind, body and soul.” It was a chance to talk about how God changed her life through adventure programming, and how He continues to do so today for thousands of students through the ministry of the CCO’s Outdoor Leadership Team.

She described for the attendees how we are whole people who live interconnected lives and whose leadership comes out of our character and our character is discovered in community.