Evening Climb of the Eiffel Tour
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Christmas Greetings from France: Joyeux Noël! Even though many of us have already started to put our Christmas trees up, traditionally the 12 Days of Christmas begin on December 25th. Trees will be up in France through January to give more light to these dark days. Christmas markets are still bustling. There’s actually a sign in Strasbourg (the Capital of Christmas as they say) that states the Christmas season really ends February 1st. As an American, there’s some truth in that. For some Americans, we say the festive season runs from Halloween to the Super Bowl. Wherever you are, enjoy this special season. We have, and will continue to do so.
It’s also a time to look back, which we want to do, and plan ahead, as we are doing. First, notably, we haven’t updated this blog as much as we used to. There’s a reason for that. We now do a bi-monthly newsletter for our new church plant. We give weekly devotions and news of all that is going on in the new church plant along with sermon links. EIC Rive Gauche is a part of family of churches at EIC Paris, and you are welcome to subscribe to our church newsletter.
Yet, we will continue to write on this blog – The Tates in Paris. It will be more about our family life in Paris and life here as Christians with cultural perspectives. Now two and a half years in France, and it is a home. We all enjoy living here. I say that truthfully. Even here over Christmas, it is a little sad not to be in my other home – Mississippi – yet our schedule is full and there is much to do in this home too. We are grateful. We have all become more acclimated to life, particularly our boys, who are thriving in school and with friends. That is most important for us.
Big, great, and wonderful news is that our special needs son got into a school he loves in Paris. This is both a blessing and an answered prayer for us. Linda calls it a miracle. It is no small thing. They teach life skills, art, computer science, cooking, and most of all, he is making good friends within it. We are so happy for him and enjoy watching him grow into this new season.
One other reason life feels full is the new church. Although it began a year ago as a weekly small group, we began Sunday services on Easter 2023, and in some ways, this Christmas felt like it was coming full circle too. We have been able to meet in a wonderful, special cafe, where we can more easily get to know locals and be part of this community. Our Christmas Eve service was special, as we had a candlelight service with dinner there afterwards. It was a full evening and a special Christmas. You can follow our church life by following @eicrivegauche on Instagram or Facebook.
Altogether, 2023 has not been easy. I don’t want to fully sugarcoat things, even if it’s Christmas. We have all been stretched and struggled in some ways immeasurably. To land and plant, a family, in another country, with a different language, at mid-life for the parents, is no small thing. Our marriage has changed, our parenting has changed, and we are different people because of this move. Yet for me, at least, it’s more that I see things differently. There is a certainly a more global perspective I carry. That just is what it is, when you daily interact with people from France, Brazil, the Philippines, the UK, India, Australia, Pakistan & Liberia, to name a few. The growth in language also allows one to see differently. Yes, we are all more comfortable in French. I am not bilingual, yet I am certainly comfortable. When you think in another language, you begin to think differently too. I hope to keep growing, and perhaps tackle another language one day.
I’ve most changed as a Christian. I’ve just simply had to rely more on God. If you lose the trappings of security and even safety, which is often the surroundings we build for ourselves in our 20s and 30s, you can feel very untethered. You have to have a real relationship with God in faith. Yes, in faith. The grace is given. The faith is required though. Faith that He will provide. You also need a Christian community. We’ve been blessed to have the family of churches with Emmanuel International Church Paris. We are excited to help EIC Paris grow. We’ve been convicted of this need for Christian communities across Paris and France too. The international experience is lonely and isolating, even for the most well positioned expats of commerce and diplomacy. People just get lonely away from their perceived home. So we want to help cultivate churches across this global city. We certainly commit this season of life to it and are giving our lives to it now.
Lastly, I’ve changed just in the idea about one’s home. Clearly having another home here in France changes my perspective. And many may say the same if they’ve moved once or often. Yet I’m writing about home as a Christian. I’m so glad to have made this move to build a home in a very different place. Because it’s helped me see that my home is to be, as a Christian, in Christ. Nothing can take that home away. It is eternal and it is secure. And if our home is with Him, we can be at home, or build a home, anywhere on earth – even with the struggles, insecurities, and uncertainties. It is the grounding that allows me and my family to take on this great challenge and be even excited for the future!
In the past, I have made a home my false hope. Having a beautiful picket fence home with all the picture perfect memories. It’s a false hope because it cannot last forever. Building a life in a community or having a home with family are very good things. We need them and we need to build them. Yet they ultimately point to our real home, – our final home spiritually, mentally, relationally, and one day completely physically. At Christmas, God came to make a home with us by being Emmanuel – God with Us.
The question of our entire lives, all our lives is, will we really make a home with Him?
When we do, as we do, we can say to others Welcome Home.
Because Jesus is always saying to us,
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