My Time in France

France.  Even saying the word now stirs a longing in my heart.  And the desire to grab a chocolate croissant, a cafe au lait, and my Bible.  I wrote about what God was stirring in my heart and my desires to be part of the France mission trip in this post The City of Lights. We've been back for a couple of months and honestly there aren't many days that I don't think of the people there and carry them in my heart.

As with my last trip, I found the days leading up to our departure a little overwhelming for me.  It continues to be an act of faith and obedience to voluntarily leave my kiddos for 10 days.  It was also on the heels of my grandfather's funeral so all around emotionally I was a little raw and anxious.   

On the day that I left, I got lots of love from the boys.  A little different this time around with a mission trip because they had a greater awareness of me leaving and we talked a lot about why I was going and what I was going to do there.  They helped me pack and I discovered some extra love from Eli in my suitcase. 

Beckett gave me sweet kisses and said "Here mom. Take this kiss with you. It's like Star Wars. Let the force be with you."

We had one last date at their favorite restaurant.  As I wrote on my IG that day.  My heart ached and hurt during that lunch and my eyes were weepy thinking of leaving them. I have so many BIG prayers for them.  For this life, for this world they are growing up in.    And it's true.  Part of my calling there is I desperately desire for them to grow up where the name of Jesus is proclaimed to all nations.  

Yep. I cried pretty much all the way to the airport and as we sat and waited to board the plane I journaled this prayer for the trip.

  • God my heart is hurting.  I need you to take away this longing I have and fear of leaving my children.
  • Replace all these emotions with EXCITEMENT.
  • Help me be FULLY PRESENT on this trip.
  • Lay aside thoughts that are not from you and give me your eyes and heart for the people around me.
  • God I trust you with my children. I trust you with family.  
  • Whatever happens on this trip God, I desire to be faithful in trusting you, seeking you, and bringing you glory with my lifea and my heart.
And He delivered!  We had a great flight and I was able to sleep a few hours.  In his mercy and grace he placed me beside one of our pastors that until this trip I hadn't really known very well.  As we talked and connected it allowed me to take my mind of my kiddos, relax, and build a great new friendship that turned out to be one of the biggest blessings of the trip.   We transferred in London and were on the ground in France and with all our bags pretty easy.  By the time we were on the way to Chantilly I was excited! 

Made it to Paris!
The first night was an evening of getting to know some of the staff and small group from the church.  As much as I tried to enjoy and be engaged my head was hurting.  Jet lag, lack of sleep, and general anxiety I think contributed to the migraine but fortunately I was able to head back early to the hotel, take my meds, and sleep it off.  Many many answered prayers that I woke up the next day feeling much better overall and ready to take on Paris!

Friday and Saturday were spent with Beth Krueger in Paris.  Beth is  from our area in Texas but is currently called to missions with Campus Crusade in Paris.  She is a joy! And a great tour guide.  Over the course of two day we not only visited many famous museums, tours, landmarks, and must-see's but truly experienced Paris, the culture, and the people through her eyes.  

First stop Arc de Triomphe 
We spent the morning praying in teams over a 360 view of the city.

This day we walked about 12 miles and every step was beautiful.  One of my favorite walks was headed up to the Sacre-Coeur, a Catholic church at the highest point of the city where we ate lunch on the steps.  On our way up we stopped at a bakery to grab some deliciousness.  As we continued on our way we passed through the artist square Place du Tertre.  

Music playing, locals chatting, view of the city. A gorgeous way to soak in Paris. 


getting know sweet Alex on our trip 

entrance to Sacre Couer

1,000 ways to say "I love you" in many many languages 
We spent the afternoon taking a boat ride on the Sienne which was a great way to see Paris.

listening to French history while we road on the boat 

And strolled the Eiffel Tower plaza...

Eiffel Tower 20 years later!  So completely changed from that lost 15 year old Bama girl. 
Both teams at the Eiffel Tower.  Lots to love about this photo!
After dinner at an amazing creperie we caught the train back to Chantilly to get ready to hit Paris strong again the next day.

Notre Dame

Lock Bridge
Opera House

King Louie's apartment 


 I love the bustling of the city, the constant life, the gorgeous architecture, the walking, the markets, the history.. the food!  Can you tell I fell in love?

We said au revoir to our young adult friends and they did ministry in Paris and we began our ministry in Chantilly on Sunday. 

Our ministry partners in Chantilly are both Charles and Amy Cross  & their beautiful family who are missionaries with GEM (Greater European Mission) and Michael Jouve the pastor the Chantilly church plant our church supports. All incredible people that God is using in France.  Such loving followers of Jesus who desire more than anything for His name to be known throughout France.  It was a privilege and a blessing to get to walk along side them for a week and support their ministries.   

The Cross Family France

Michael and his soon to be wife Elina
We attended morning  service was at the church in Nogent.  A town not that far from Chantilly where our Faithbridge group  had visited before.  Home church of the Cross Family. 

Dan shared the message with Charles translating
One of the most beautiful moments of trip was worship in Nogent.  Many familiar worship song but sung with the beauty of the French language.   

After a lovely lunch in the home of GEM missionaries and a prayer walk around the town of Clemont (home of a future church plant) 

we headed back to Chantilly for service there. 

starting with setting up the room for service 
and praying over each chair 

One word for the area for kids.. enchanting

A member of our group gave their testimony.. in French!

Post church pot luck

The week that followed was full of morning devotions, prayer walks, castle visits, and a tour of Chantilly.
Lunch while visiting Chateau de Pierrefonds

A beautiful castle walk  

Authentic Chantilly (famous whipped cream) at the Chateau in Chantilly
Entrance to Chantilly

the Stables - Chantilly known for equestrian 

Each night we hosted English club at a local restaurant which was absolutely so much fun.  My favorite part? Getting to know so many locals.  Hearing their stories and learning about where they were from and their local customs.  We did fun games and there was lots of laughter and great memories with our special new friends.   

working on sentences 

pictionary competition. 

and when we didn't know the word… charades!
And a visit to do English class at a local childcare center.  The French kids were so fun! (and dressed adorably of course)

and one of the best parts.. meals in homes.  We had the loveliest time at the home of Jean who also invited over the coworker and her husband that first shared the gospel with him at work.   Such heart and love went into preparing for us and gracious hospitality.  A love the way they linger, taking time for conversation and moving at a different pace. 

yellow rose of Texas 
The cheese course. Every meal should have one!
The charming Cross family home 

The grand finale of our trip was our Texas Hoe Down.  One of our previous trips had great success with this party and we threw our own too complete with line dancing, texas food, cowboy hats, and plenty of Yee-Haw :-)

Ready for the Hoe Down!

with some of our new friends!

line dancing fun 

A little cotton eyed-joe 
Jacqueline did a fabulous job decorating!

everyone got a bandana 
My sweet roommate Melissa
Loved getting to know Lena  
And this precious girl Aurelie 
My friend Erve 
And just like that after a lot of late nights and mornings full of cafe la creme we were back on a plane headed home.  My view and awe of God expanded, my heart full, and maybe just a little piece of it left behind.

There were moments on this trip that are hard to put into words.  Moments were I felt God's presence in such a large way.  I think in someone ways as I go about my routine and so focused on my everyday life and ministry here that I forget how BIG and HUGE our God is and how he is moving and calling people to him everywhere on this globe.  I am more in awe of Him than ever and His people on the ground in the France answering the great commission.  I'm grateful for my family who supported me and realize so much what a sacrifice for them to step in and help for 10 days so I could purse the things I feel God is calling me to.  I don't know what the future will bring for me and France but I am intentionally praying for the country, the people, and that I can somehow continue to be a part of what God is doing there.

My starbucks mug 

For now, I drink my coffee (and eat my cheese), get my fix at the local crepe shop, pray for my friends, and wait expectantly on God to do big things!

Au Revoir!

The Riley's