Stunned, But Not Broken

A week and a half after the Paris attacks, I think that phrase best describes the French people at the moment. This definitely hit harder and was a much bigger shock than the Charlie Hebdo attacks back in January.

For me, in a way this was 9/11 all over again, except this time I wasn’t on the other side of the Atlantic. This time I was just a few hours away. I was actually watching the France-Germany soccer game on TV with my family, and we heard the explosions outside the stadium. Of course, it wasn’t until after the game that we found out that those loud bangs weren’t firecrackers like we’d initially assumed. To be honest, I’d have much preferred it had been firecrackers (even though those things are banned from stadiums for a reason).

I had been prepping a long-overdue blog update earlier in the day and had planned on posting it after the game, but instead I wound up staying up until 3 am following the news. I’m amazed I managed to sleep at all that night, and the next couple of days were hard.

On the plus side, the response from all over the world has been pretty amazing. I had a number of people in the States check in and make sure I was okay, my Facebook feed has been flooded with French flags, and I don’t think I’ve heard La Marseillaise sung so often in a single week. The French are determined to not let this break them, and it’s wonderful to see the rest of the world (well, most of it, anyway) rallying around in support.

That said, I just hope this wave of support lasts more than a couple of weeks. I remember back in January “Je suis Charlie” was everywhere for about two weeks, and a month later it seemed like no one was talking about it anymore. It seems that with the advent of social media trends flare up and die out a lot faster than they used to. The thing is, we’re going to need prayer and support for more than just a few weeks. It’s going to take a while for everyone (particularly those directly affected) to process and deal with what happened, and who knows how long the fight against ISIS is going to last.

I don’t expect the world to revolve around France for the foreseeable future (nor should it – as others have pointed out elsewhere, there are other situations that need attention and prayer as well). Just don’t forget about us, okay?

Le Musée du Désert

Back in July, we had some friends over from the States, and while they were here we took them to visit the Musée du Désert (the Desert Museum) in the Cévennes region. Despite the name, said museum is not about the desert. It’s actually about the Protestant history of the area, specifically the Huguenots, of which I am a descendant on my mom’s side.


The museum is in what used to be a house belonging to a Protestant pastor named Pierre Laporte (also called Rolland). It’s full of exhibits on the history of the Protestant Reformation, major pastors and preachers, as well as significant events in that area.


A significant portion of the exhibits were dedicated to the period of persecution that lasted from when Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, making Catholicism the only acceptable religion in France, up until about the time of the French Revolution. During that time, Protestant congregations in the Cévennes often met out in the countryside, which was mainly desert, hence the name of the museum. They became very adept at hiding their Bibles and other accessories; for example, they converted barrels and ladders into collapsible pulpits and printed tiny Bibles and prayer books that women could hide in their buns:

A barrel pulpit

A barrel pulpit

"Bun Bibles"

“Bun Bibles”

Pastor Rolland also had a hiding place in his house that he could duck into whenever soldiers came looking for him:


There were a number of memorials for pastors, preachers, and others who were killed or imprisoned for their faith:


"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness." Matthew 5:10

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.” Matthew 5:10

This is a prayer written by a Protestant galley slave:


“Lord, may I see
This iron ring I wear
As a wedding ring
And these chains I drag
As the chains of Your love.”

The Huguenot cross

The Huguenot cross

A couple of months ago, Carole, one of the ladies from the barn, asked me to do a photoshoot of her with her horse, Soñador. I’d taken pictures of them in the past, but this time she wanted an official photo session – paid and everything. Of course I said yes. :)

The shoot was quite a success, if I say so myself. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Knotts Island, NC

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I spent the first week of June in Virginia Beach, where, as the post title suggests, I got to meet up with quite a few people I hadn’t seen in a while. I stayed with BJ’s parents, which meant lots of meet-ups for coffee/lunch/dinner with her and her mom (and occasionally the rest of the family). She also kidnapped me for a day, which we spent at the ranch. Definitely no complaints there. :)

There was a fair amount of running around that week, trying to fit in as many meet-ups as I could. Definitely worth it, though. I got to catch up with a friend of mine from high school who I hadn’t seen since 2002. We’d more or less kept in touch on Facebook, but it was nice to be able to talk in person again. :) I also got to see some family friends who I’d last seen 4 years ago.

However, the most unexpected and most heartwarming reunion for me was with my childhood best friend, Sophie. I’ve known her since I was six years old, and despite having mostly grown up on opposite sides of the Atlantic, we’d stayed close up until my second year of college, at which point she pretty much dropped off the radar. Then, after a decade of radio silence, I got a message from her on Facebook, and we got to meet up for lunch one day:

Besties reunited :)

Besties reunited :)

Other noteworthy incidents from my stay include going to church with Dale and Diana (she’s the pastor of the United Methodist Church in Knotts Island, North Carolina) and getting drafted to sing in the choir. I was also introduced to The Big Bang Theory (I’d heard of it but never seen it – surprisingly pretty funny), and was thoroughly entertained by the cats:

vroom vroom

All in all, my visit went by far too quickly. The trip back was, thankfully, uneventful, and my luggage arrived with me. I did need a nap when I got home, though.

And so concludes my account of my epic trip to (and across) the United States. Hope you enjoyed. :)


We stayed a few days with Aunt Susie and Uncle Dan in Charlottesville, and I think I can safely say we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I hadn’t seen any of them in four years, so we had a bit of catching up to do. It was a little disconcerting to see how much Will and Matt had grown; I’m pretty sure Will at least will be taller than me next time I see him. On the flip side, their being older meant we actually have some things in common now. Namely, Will is now a huge Doctor Who fan, which pleases me greatly. :D Sandrine was amused to note that we have the same “geek-out” face. Well, I have been saying for years that Will is basically a male version of me, so really, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. And Matt is a male version of Sandrine (which she does not bother to deny).

Our visit was filled with errands, video games, ONE episode of Doctor Who (Will and I managed to behave ourselves), soccer games, a visit with Grandpa, and a trip to the Green Valley Book Fair (where I managed to not buy ALL the Doctor Who novels). Good times. :)

Will's soccer game

Will’s soccer game

Matt's soccer game

Matt’s soccer game


Yes, it says Stargate Lane

Yes, it says Stargate Lane

Visiting Grandpa

Visiting Grandpa

Uncle Dan, Aunt Susie, Matt, and Will

Uncle Dan, Aunt Susie, Matt, and Will

After our 3 days in Dallas, Sandrine and I met up with her friend JulieAnn and drove down to Montgomery, Alabama, where we spent the night. On the way, we drove through Louisianna:


We saw sights like this:


And this:

Proof that we were indeed in the Bible Belt ;)

Proof that we were indeed in the Bible Belt ;)

The next morning, Sandrine and I went with JulieAnn to the barn where she worked and helped with the morning chores (yes, we really are horse freaks). After a hearty breakfast, we headed back out, this time toward South Carolina. We stopped in Birmingham, Alabama for lunch, and I finally got to meet my online friend Tina, who is just as awesome in person:

tina and me c

That was the high point of the day. Shortly after we got back on the road, the sky started looking like this:


And soon after that, we found ourselves in the middle of a torrential downpour. Then we got stuck in rush hour traffic in Atlanta, and to top it all off, for the last 20 miles or so, we had to deal with a trucker who seemed determined to run somebody over. Did I mention it was still raining and pitch dark by this point? Yeah, we were really happy to finally make it to our friend Michael’s house.

We stayed two days in South Carolina, which we mainly spent unwinding. I got to meet Michael’s mom and sister, and one evening we were all invited to dinner with the grandparents (who are lovely people, by the way). Michael also took us to one of his favorite places: a French bakery/café, owned by an actual French lady. Naturally, she was very excited to have French customers, so much so that she forgot that Michael doesn’t speak French. :P

The rest of the visit went pretty much like this:


Sandrine and Calamity Jane, Destroyer of Tennis Balls

Sandrine and Calamity Jane, Destroyer of Tennis Balls

I told her to sit, and as soon as she saw the camera she posed

I told her to sit, and as soon as she saw the camera she posed

"Get outta my spaaace!"

“Get outta my spaaace!”

Sibling rivalry at its finest. ;)

The final leg of our epic road trip went very smoothly. Aside from one very brief shower, the sky was clear:


And we made it to Virginia with no trouble:



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