We’ve been reading Philippians 4:13 this week with our kiddos and it is such a good truth to hang our hearts and thoughts on long and strong. Oh that we would live this truth gloriously.
And it was sweet to look over the verse before it too this morning, “...for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (Phil 4:11b- 12)
This morning, I had our big two skip morning preschool and we (mama and the kiddos) headed to the park. Yesterday was a gorgeous day: 75ish degrees, blue sky (really, truly blue, such a rare and marvelous phenomenon here!), perfect breeze. We stayed outside as much as we could then but today- I was so hoping it would be like yesterday- I thought we just must make it to a park.
And I told a friend which park... “it feels honestly like a little bit of nature there.” That was for sure the blue skies talking. Quite unrealistically optimistic, although it is a super nice park, even while compressed by city all around. This park far beats the rusty, trash-ladden, smelly, various shades of gray that mark most other areas of the city.
So we got there and it was sadly more dingy with construction dust than I remembered. And even though we skipped school (to avoid weekend madness, pressing crowds), we still did not make it more than ten steps at the park without having to answer questions. All the usual: “are they all your kids? FOUR!? Aren’t you tired to death? Did you know China only allows one child? Oh look at their skin, so white. Look at their hair, their eyes. Look she’s got four. No wait, she’s got three and she’s pregnant.” And there I must reply... “No, this baby is on the outside. (Baby carriers like ours are quite unknown here.) She’s our fourth gift from God that we are so glad to have.”
The crowds definitely weren’t as thick today as they would have been on a weekend. There were fewer people but I don’t think there were fewer questions asked because these kind, curious stranger-friends had space to follow us for long stretches of our walk through the park.
We’ve just arrived home and the big three crashed and and my heart wants to drop about as low as their heads on those pillows... “I don’t think I had a minute to appreciate a breath of air that was even that little bit tinged with the fragrance of grass.” There was a lake there but between chasing my precious ones and answering every question, I don’t think I ever looked across it. Probably this is the way motherhood goes in these years and definitely this is the way life goes for us here.
I wanted to tell Matt, “If you don’t get me out of the city this year, I am going to shrivel up here.” Sometimes, I don’t even know why it would boil down to this, but it does, I feel like I can bear some of the hurts of missing family, friends and familiar things (it does hurt, and hurt bad, but I’ve always expected this and I came a bit more prepared to deal with this) but I tell myself that I simply can’t add this last silly straw and miss the bare humanness of beholding nature.
Today is a day I must preach to myself. I must lift my eyes! So here are two answers for my polluted-sky, noisy, sad heart:
1~ There is still nature and other grace to behold. We have planters on three sides of our back patio and we’ve just planted vegetables! (That we even have a patio is extraordinary!) What a blessing and a gift it will be to see life and produce coming up from that ground! And we have strips of grass and roses to be seen around our apartment complex too. Deep red and fragrant, pure grace.
2~ And... “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I can be content without. I don’t have to lay down and shrivel for not getting my nature desires met. (I am still attached to the True and Living Vine!) Someday we’ll make it to 大自然 (“big nature”) and I will take it in, breath it deep, let it sink through my eyes and my heart and my skin and my ears and I will enjoy it and praise the God who made it as well as I possibly can. And until then, I can still breath and I am still human and there is still beauty and Christ strengthens me well and his grace is sufficient to overcome this little thing and even make me fruitful for his glory here despite this “without” and every other “missing.”
And I must add here David Livingstone’s words “I have surely never made a sacrifice.” Jesus sacrificed his life for mine. For me to miss these few things, is simply a lesson in lifting my eyes and lifting my hope and remembering where my home is. This is not a sacrifice. Oh to count it only a privilege.
And now for a benediction... I’m going to go cuddle Vivi and take in all of the sweetness of her scent, her soft skin, her itsy-bitsy delicate coos, her precious inquisitiveness (I love how she raises her eyebrows to look around) and all her wiggly moves. Our Lord does make all things well! What a good God! This little girl surely is good medicine for my soul! The grace of God is still so evident all over our lives, our home, our family, His Word....
Praise, praise the Lord!
I had the camera out long enough to get no decent shots but I will say, since it was put away early, we didn’t have any splash falls into the lake. Another great grace!