Keeping in touch with friends and family while living on the other side of the world.

Good News

Doesn’t seem to be a lot of good news in the media these days!  But I guess that just reminds me of the best Good News – that God loves us, that his Son Jesus died to forgive us from our sins, and that one day God will bring his children home to heaven to live forever.  This year I’ve spent living out of boxes and suitcases makes me really long for that eternal home;  I’ll finally be able to unpack and settle in some place for good!

As for our housing situation here in France, the good news is that my in-laws have a buyer for their house and the transfer of ownership is October 3rd.   With that “eviction date” so close now for us, we have set our decision deadline for September 15th, to give us a good two weeks to pack and empty out the house.

Here’s the problem:   Nearly 12 million people (20% of France’s entire population) live in the Paris Metropolis.  Because of the over-population, owners have the privilege of being very choosy when renting their apartments.  It’s really hard to explain the whole ‘culture’ of renting in Paris.   It’s taken us 4 months to just kinda figure it out.  But we really have tried everything.  We even tried getting Guillaume’s parents to rent an apartment for us, and their application was also refused.

So, that last paragraph doesn’t look like it has a lot of good news in it, does it?    But, I guess it really does.  The good news is that God knows exactly where he wants us to be, and he is completely capable of accomplishing his will.    We would love to be able to get housing here and stay in France.  We’ve spent a lot of time, energy, and money on our move over here.  We’ve made friends.  Guillaume has a good job that he enjoys, with good co-workers.   But if we don’t have housing lined up by the 15th next week, we have decided we will have to return to America.

If it was just us, Guillaume and I would go live under this amazing bridge in Paris! But well, we have Lily to think of, and she can't swim yet.

So, pray for us.  We’ll be making a few more phone calls today, following up on a few last housing leads.  Pray for God to open the right doors and close the wrongs ones.  Pray that we have peace with the decision we’re led to, whatever it may be.   God is good.   And, well, that really is just the best news.

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Housing search update

Here’s a quick post to just update everyone on our search for housing here in France.

Since we arrived in France last fall, we’ve been living in my in-laws’ house, while they are on furlough for the year.  This has been an incredible blessing, as we’ve been able to have a cheap place to live while job searching and adjusting to life in general.   My in-laws will be returning to France next month, and hope to have their house sold by August, so they can move on to their next ministry several hours south of here.    Guillaume’s new job is about an hour’s drive south-east, so we’ve begun a search for our own housing in that area.   I am glad we started early, because we keep running into hurdles as we figure out the ins and outs of the French housing market.

Our original plan has been to rent an apartment, since we don’t really feel financially stable enough yet to take out a mortgage.   Renting is so simple in America, I guess I assumed it would be similar in France…. but, not so!   I think it has something to do with laws protecting renters from eviction, and also the expense of setting up a rent agreement, but owners are very picky about who can rent their apartments.  Owners require a dossier of documents, and then will review them, and then can refuse you for any number of reasons.   In your dossier you must prove that your net income is 3xs the month rent value (including all charges), that you have a steady job (copy of your work contract), tax documents, and copies of your previous 3 months rent payments.  Also, for all young couples (like us!), rarely will an owner accept a dossier unless we have a co-signer, outside of the immediate family.

So after long searching, we found a little apartment that would suit us, and the owner refused us, because… we have a baby.   Ok, this was pretty unexpected, since there was nothing that said children weren’t allowed.  But the realtor said, Oh yes- You will have a hard time finding a place to rent within your budget, because owners think your small family will outgrow the small apartment and you will move out soon.  Well, of course!  In my mind, renting isn’t a permanent situation.  We want to rent for a year or so, until we are settled and ready to buy a house.    And I definitely don’t want to rent a huge apartment just for a year, as that’s less money we’re saving for a future house.

So, since no one will rent a small apartment to us for just a year, our next step is actually applying to buy an apartment, as the mortgage will be significantly lower than a home mortgage.   Hopefully there will not be so many time-consuming, difficult steps in buying as there is in renting.   We only have 2 months to move, after wasting 2 months chasing dead ends.    Please keep us in your prayers as we keep searching for a place to live.  It has been quite frustrating, but if God wants us to stay in France, He will continue to provide for us as He has so far!

New Camera

On Sunday, Lily was wearing a dress that used to be mine, and I wanted to take a picture of her in it.  So, I picked up my camera off of the piano, not noticing that the wrist strap was pinned under Lily’s baby book.  I didn’t have an especially good grip on the camera, so the little resistance from the wrist strap pulled it out of my hand, and the poor camera hit the tile floor just before I could dive for it.

My dad bought my little Sony Cybershot for me for a high school graduation present almost 8 years ago now.  It has a lived a good life and photographed some my best memories during the past 8 years.   I will miss that camera, but accidents like that happen, and things are just things and can always be replaced.  I do hate to spend money on replacing things that should have lasted must longer, but O well.

Fortunately, Amazon.fr had a great sale going on for new digital cameras that ended on Sunday, so I was able to get a good deal on a replacement.  I kinda feel like a camera is really a necessity with a cute little baby like mine, and with so many people who can only see her through pictures.    And I love Amazon.  They have tons of options and their shipping service is superb.  I ordered the camera Sunday evening, it shipped Monday morning, and it came Wednesday morning.

So, here are some pictures I’ve taken today, just getting the feel for my new Canon Powershot A1200.  I would have preferred another Sony, since that’s what I’m used to, but the Canon was a great price, and came with a free 8 gb memory card.

cherry tree in bloom

Here's the cherry tree I mentioned in my last post, all white and fluffy.

close up of cherry blossoms

Here's a close-up of the cherry blossoms, with our other flowering bushes in the background.

Naptime's over!

My favorite subject to photograph, just awake from her morning nap.

ready for lunch!

Lily's ready to eat her lunch!

I love lunchtime!

Ok, here's another, just because she's so cute! And she's thinking, "Uh, ok Mom- enough pictures. Can I eat now?"

playing with a box

Lily has been playing with the most unusual things today. This cardboard box kept her self-entertained all during dinner preparations.

learning to use a sippy cup

Sippy cups are so hard to use; much concentration is needed to get that yummy apple juice out!

Strawberry pie

I made a strawberry pie.

Very juicy pie!

It tasted great, but our berries must have been too juicy. There was no liquid added to this pie filling, but when we cut it open, the strawberries were swimming!

Well, there is some leftover pie in my fridge, so feel free to stop by and I might share a slice with you!

Spring in Limay

I love springtime.  I always have, I guess.  It’s almost magical how everything outside transforms in the spring.  For instance, there has been this UGLY tree outside my living room window all winter.  It’s a medium-sized tree, with all it’s branches chopped short, making it look like a hacked-up skeleton.   However, this week, it’s burst out beautiful white blossoms!  And then, (even better!) a friend told us that it’s a real cherry tree, with very sweet cherries.  Now that will be something to look forward to in a couple of months. (Sorry there is no picture of the cherry tree- my poor old camera is dead and it will be a few days until our  new one comes.  I will try to put a picture in my next post!)

I’ve enjoyed being able get outside and do some gardening.  I’ve gotten most of our vegetable garden cleaned up and tilled.  There is still this strip of it at the end, that has some uber-nasty weeds that I gave up on this afternoon.  But I will try again tomorrow!  I actually think they’re shoots from a bush just outside the garden that is trying to take over, but I will not let it. 🙂  So far I’ve planted, peas, radishes, lettuce, turnips and onions; and I hope to plant sweet corn, melons, squash, tomatoes, carrots and green beans- and maybe some broccoli and cabbage.    Lily’s also been enjoying the fresh air with me.   Guillaume, however, only comes outside when I make him- he’s just not the fresh-air kind of guy 🙂

Lily loves being outside!

Lily's sitting on her blanket, watching Mommy plant veggies.

Peek-a-boo, Baby!

Lily helping Mommy hang up laundry outside on a nice sunny day.

Bike ride time!

Lily's first bike ride- enjoying another pretty spring day.

Other news from us:  Guillaume had a job interview at a placement agency last week for an IT Helpdesk job, and he got a call back today, with an appointment for another interview this week- this time, with the actual company that is hiring.   This is really encouraging to us, because this is only the 2nd job interview Guillaume’s had since we moved here 6 months ago.   The French job market is so tight right now, recruiters won’t even look at someone with a foreign degree.  It’s too much of a risk in the French system.   In France, universities offering the same degree, all teach the same program, so employers know exactly what a student has studied, based on the degree they have.  Degrees are also pretty much correspond directly to a job, unlike in America, where you are encouraged to get a broad, liberal-arts education.   2 other factors:  First, French university students do a ton of internships all through their schooling, to gain work experience; but,  Guillaume has no work experience in France (work experience in America doesn’t seem to count with most agencies- go figure?).  Second, because of labor laws, once you get a job, it is nearly impossible to get fired.  So, employers don’t like taking risks.  It was quite discouraging to us when we found out a few months ago that all the hundreds of resumes Guillaume has sent out have probably been trashed without a second glance.    So, all that to let you know that we are quite excited at the prospect of a job interview!  Please pray with us about this opportunity!  We do feel that God has called us to live in France, but to live we must  have a job!

Winter is here

Well, so much for posting often! Lily has been such a perfect baby in all respects, except for taking naps. Pretty much from day 1 in France, she decided that she no longer liked naps, and would only take a nap if she was all wrapped up snuggly and held! And then last week, all of a sudden, she was find with being laid down, and currently is napping soundly in her bed. She didn’t even need to be rocked to sleep first, or anything! Hopefully this continues, and if so, I’ll have more time to blog.

not quite asleep, but content

It’s definitely winter here. We’ve had snow off and on the past 3 weeks, some accumulation, but mostly just really cold! In Limay (our town, just outside of Paris), we are the same latitude as the state of Maine, so when the wind blows from the north… brrr!

the snow is so beautiful

Lily in her snowsuit

This past weekend we went down south to visit Guillaume’s grandmother. She lives in Monte de Marson, about an hour south of Bordeaux, a 700 km drive for us. If you want to know how many miles that is, I’ll let you do the conversion yourself!

Lily with her great-grandma

The weather down there was just beautiful: sunny and about 65F. On our way home, we ran into snow just north of Tours (2/3 of the way home), and instead of taking 3 hours to get home from there, it took about 16. The snow wasn’t much at all, but the traffic started getting really slow. [Well, let me clarify “not much at all”: To all youse guys in PA, you probably wouldn’t even noticed it had snowed; To all y’all in SC, you’d have run out to the grocery store for eggs, milk, and bread, and be home eating French Toast!] Just outside of Versailles, the traffic stopped completely. Paris rush-hour traffic blocking snow plows combined with semi trucks and icy hills just didn’t mix. After sitting on the freeway for 3 hours (9:30pm-12:30am), the police came and escorted us, and some other families with babies, to a nearby gymnasium to spend the night. Lily was super excited by all the bright lights in there, but we finally got her calmed down and asleep. So we were able to get some rest too, before going the last hour of our trip in the morning.

Well, Lily is awake from her nap, so this will be the end of my post. Hopefully I’ll be able to do this more often!

August…

August has been a busy month for us!

Liliane Rose was born on Aug. 2nd (7 lb. 10 oz., 20 in.), and she has been ruling our lives ever since.  The only schedule we’ve been able to follow is: feed the baby when she wants to be fed.  But she has been quite the model baby, and we have loved every minute with her.   I’m back at work (BJU Press Distance Learning) for the next 4 weeks to finish out my contract with the University, and Guillaume is home all day babysitting.  It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me, to go back onto a schedule, after spending 3 wonderful “vacation” weeks on no schedule.  I think it’s been an adjustment for Guillaume too, but he’s been doing a great job; besides taking care of the baby all day, he’s also gotten a lot of projects and chores done around the apartment.   He is just an amazing husband and daddy!

Next week on the 31st we’ll be heading back to Atlanta to the French consulate to hopefully get all of Liliane’s French documents and to get my Visa.  It’s just 4 weeks until we leave Greenville.   I think the fact that I’ll be leaving the US for an indeterminate amount of time is finally starting to sink in.  Wow… just 5 more weeks until I will be living in France.  I really should be practicing my French!

I may not have time for many posts before we leave, but I promise I will post frequently once we are settled in France.   We want to keep in touch with all of our friends, and I hope our friends will want to keep in touch with us!  Also, as added incentive to view my blog, I plan on posting lots of cute baby pictures 🙂

Liliane with Uncle Philippe

'I'm not so sure about this Uncle Philippe person..."

First Post

I have decided to start a blog in order to better keep in contact with all my American friends and family when we move to France this fall.   I do not anticipate blogging much between now and our move.  I just don’t think I’ll have time with working full-time for BJUP DL and packing this month, and then beginning my new full-time job as Mommy next month.

Just as an update, Guillaume and I are planning on leaving Greenville the end of September and moving to Paris, France (after a week’s visit to Lebanon to say goodbye to everyone up there).  We are expecting our first baby, a girl, to arrive in early August.   We are excited to see how God has led us this far and will continue to guide us through this transition stage in our lives.

We will miss seeing every one of you here in the States, but yet quite thankful for the many methods of communication available to us!   Please keep in touch, either on this blog, on Facebook, with IM, email, Skype, or all of the above.  And for anyone “old-fashioned,” we can even give you our snail-mail address!