Thursday, November 5, 2015

Surrendering Control

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So much of my life has been spent learning to choose my will over my emotions. To choose to believe the truth of God’s Word, choose to act despite what I feel. And for me, this is very hard. But I know it’s right. It’s counter-intuitive to surrender, to free fall in God’s grace when you have no control. Since we moved from Texas to France this year, this has especially been true. And this past summer in particular.

Moving, language school, family, paperwork, daily life- everything was exhausting. When we arrived for a week of outreach in southern France I was already completely empty. I had nothing to give. Every day was a struggle to choose to act with grace, kindness, humility, flexibility, and energy I didn’t have. When I desperately wanted to run away and be alone, I couldn’t. Instead, I had to be painfully present with 100 other people, lead worship, serve.

But I felt God’s grace, given just enough for that day, no more. I felt so raw and sensitive, but instead of freaking out, yelling, crying, hiding, I stayed. I served. I read books to my youngest, I washed dishes, handed out literature on the streets, talked with people, prayed. I did everything I could.

I was pulled in so many different directions. And then the kids started getting sick, one by one. Caring for them on a mattress on the floor of a church, without any privacy was less than ideal. I thought I would break open completely. But as I’ve often found, when I’m completely empty, God somehow still uses me. With me out of the way, he gets 100% of the glory. I’m happy to be part of that equation.

I didn’t know that I’d be leading worship, had no chance to practice with people who showed up last minute. Sometimes not even knowing if I was supposed to lead until just before I had to do it. In French. Sometimes I couldn’t make copies, had the wrong translations, the microphones went missing, and we just had to wing it.

It sounds trite. But I love to plan and be prepared, especially when I’m in charge of something. I feel like it’s good stewardship. I take it seriously. And then there was the language barrier. So frustrating, embarrassing, painful even. I was so limited.

But God was so faithful. He used my tiny widow’s mite, he blessed and broke my humble loaves and fishes and used it to feed the hungry people. People were blessed and worshipped. I was able to really connect with people, listen to them, pray for them. Praise God.

After the outreach, we decided to stay on a few extra days to spend some time with my sister’s family. The plan was to rent an apartment, spend time at the beach, cook meals together, play games, catch up after spending two years apart.

But the place we rented didn’t end up working out. Some friends rearranged things for us last minute, and we ended up staying at an even better apartment owned by a local church. It was beautiful, spacious, with a veranda upstairs, a little yard, ivy and flowers covering the walls, even air conditioning downstairs! I felt so incredibly blessed at this unexpected gift, like God was rewarding me for making it through the previous week.

Just as we’d hoped, we hung out at the beach most of the day, made dinners together, let the kids watch movies on our laptops, played games, and after the kids were asleep the adults talked for hours on the veranda. It was wonderful.

Until the day we came back to the apartment and discovered that we had been robbed. They took our laptops, cell phones, expensive cameras. They threw our things everywhere. We were trying to figure out what had been taken, trying to talk to the neighbors (in broken French). It was chaos.

My eight-year-old was crying so hard, clinging to me, afraid the robbers were around the corner and would come back. So I knelt down, looked into his eyes and tried to tell him the truth. It’s ok. It’s ok. We’re all safe and together. It’s just stuff. We’re ok. I’m here with you. Then I repeated the process with my inconsolable daughter. And then with my oldest son. It’s going to be ok. We’re safe. They’re just things. Everything was completely out of my control, but God gave me peace in that moment, and helped me be calm for everyone else.

The boys all slept closer to us that night. We’ve been robbed before. It makes you feel sick to see that strangers, bad guys as my youngest calls them, touched your things and took your favorite items. So violated to know that they were watching you, waiting for you to leave. So unsafe to know that they broke through strong wooden doors to get inside. Angry to know that they took your children’s things and to realize that they will carelessly wipe away all the information. All the beautiful photos of the family, all the stories you collected, all the memories gone.

I couldn’t sleep that night. As usual for me, when the crisis is actually over, then I finally feel it. I woke up feeling so heavy and sad. I thought this place was a gift from God for working so hard, for my struggling through the outreach the previous week. But now I couldn’t wait to leave.

Despite calling the police several times that day and the next, they never came. Ted finally went to the police station and tried to file a report, no easy feat in another language. The rest of us just stayed at the apartment and waited, trying to distract the kids and not worry. We were able to go to the beach one more time, trying to leave on a more positive note. But I couldn’t wait to get home after two weeks of solid struggle.

Looking back, I realize that I was in an intense training period of trust. I was surrounded by situations I had no control over. But God was faithful. He gave me grace and strength for each day. And I can choose to praise him and love him and find joy in spite of the mess. We are safe. It’s just stuff. We are together. God is good.

My prayer then is the same I pray now- that God would help me see with his eyes, give me his perspective. I never stop needing him like I did those two weeks in southern France. Just because I’m not surrounded by chaos right now doesn’t mean that I depend on Jesus any less. I pray for humble courage to walk in God’s truth, despite how I feel. When it feels like life is out of control, he whispers, You are safe. You’re not alone. I’ve got this. I don’t know what I’ll face tomorrow, but I know my God is with me, holding my hand, walking beside me through it all.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Busy but Thankful

We've already had a great response from our recent newsletter. Thank you to everyone who has contacted us, donated, or told us that they're praying for us! We truly appreciate it. If you didn't get an email from us, let us know so we can keep you updated.

This weekend we bought most of our supplies to fix up the house, but we have to store it inside until our first "workday." Some guys at church will be helping us repair our fence, replace woodwork on the house, paint, do some landscaping, etc. Today we're having a new heating unit put in. We're also selling some furniture and sorting through what things we need to keep or get rid of. So needless to say, our house is a wreck!

In the midst of it all, we have to find time to play with the kids and do normal things. 

And especially since it's Easter weekend, we remember the tremendous sacrifice of our Savior. Nothing can compare to His love. In spite of the craziness around us, we fix our eyes on Jesus and thank Him that we have eternal life, hope, & joy!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Update on Team Wallace

So... it's been a while since I've posted anything. Sorry about that. But click HERE to understand why. We're on our way to France this fall!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Outreach Report from France!

This is the outreach report from our missions trip to Clermont-Ferrand, France. The pictures and quotes are from our team- including us! You may have to click on the image of the page to see it more clearly.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

We're Headed to France!

It's very surreal to announce that we'll be leaving for France one week from today! God has been so good to us. We have raised $10,000 in a few short months, gotten our passports, booked our flights, hotels, and trains. So many people contributed to this miracle, and we are grateful beyond words!

We'll have three days in Paris and the rest of the time we will be in Clermont-Ferrand. The last few weeks we've been reading travel books, devotionals, studying French and trying to keep it all in perspective. We don't just want this to be a great vacation, or to get lost in a whirlwind of events. We desperately want God to move in our hearts- in us, our kids, and in the people of France.

Please pray for us over the next few weeks- for protection, for all the details to come together, and especially that God would do an amazing work in and through us (and in spite of us!). We are so excited to watch this journey unfold before us, and we can't wait to see what God has in store!

On top of the Eiffel Tower in 1996, my first trip to France

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Update: Final Push!


We wanted to let everyone know where we stand right now:
1. We have 87% of our budget so far. This leaves us $1290 left to raise in 2 weeks!
2. We leave in a little over 2 weeks! (July 18th)
3. We are really excited!

It seems like all we can do and think about right now is this trip to France. We have been in communication with our team there and with the family we will be staying with. We even have a list of worship songs in French to practice! For some more details, visit our website:

This past week has been a real roller coaster ride. We have both felt very heavy at times and random problems seem to arise- like one of the windows on our truck shattering, our dryer going out, and the couple who hosted our party on Saturday was in a serious car accident on Friday.

Yet despite all of these efforts to distract and defeat us, we can feel our faith and our intimacy with God growing. I love seeing the amazement in our kids' eyes as they hear about God's miraculous provision day by day. They pray with such simple faith and sincerity for courage to share the Gospel with the children in France. And their child-like faith is a great reminder to us that our heavenly Father has not brought us this far to leave us undone.

Please continue to pray for us as we prepare to embark on this adventure that He has laid out before us. We ask you to specifically pray for:

* Our hearts and minds to be prepared to minister, and for the people we will be ministering to
* Unity with our entire team (we'll meet for the first time in Clermont-Ferrand)
* ALL of the logistical details to come together- hotels, trains, misc. things that we will probably forget :)
*Opportunities for our kids to see how God wants to use them in a real way
* The rest of the financial support that we need for the trip to come in

For those of you that have given, thank you!!! For those of you that still want to give, now is the time to be part of our miracle! As God keeps reminding me, "Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it" (Heb. 11:1). Thank you for partnering with us in prayer and support!

Much love,
Ted, Michelle, Emily, Daniel, Timothy & Judah
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