Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Little Gift

Last week was one of those weeks. Fall colds descended on our family like unwanted out-of-town guests. I felt as if I'd wiped a thousand runny noses and dealt with a thousand bad attitudes and coached a thousand first graders through books about the sad dad's wet red wig. I was so desperate for real, live adult conversation that I accosted my poor retired neighbor in the front yard and kept her cornered for thirty minutes, coming up with question after question about how to winterize a lawn since that's what she seems to be most interested in. I wore the same crummy black yoga pants for forty-eight hours straight. It was just one of those weeks.

My heart has been so heavy lately. Heavyhearted. What a perfect adjective; I don't think I ever realized how perfectly it describes that certain feeling of sadness that can't be described in any other way. It's as if my heart weighs a hundred pounds. I keep trying to take in big deep breaths, to shake off the weight of this ache, but it's been hard to do with any sort of permanence. I miss home. I miss my friends, my old life there, my old town. So much of what I knew and loved has been stripped away.

In the midst of our long week, the kids and I were learning about the water cycle. I made up a little song about evaporation and condensation to the tune of the Itsy Bitsy Spider, and the kids were unimpressed. That song is for babies, they said. Charlie didn't even like it. It was unavoidably clear that we all needed a new scene, so I decided that we were going to go for a hike. There are trails in our neighborhood, and Greg often takes the kids on little adventures, so they knew just where to go. They led me right to the trail head and down into the cool, leafy woods. They showed me the tree house and the little stream and the fallen log they can cross like gymnasts on a balance beam. We knelt down and scooped up dirt and rocks for our science project. We breathed in the musky, earthy air. We discovered fungi and did a little happy dance. We weren't there long... maybe an hour, maybe two. But as we walked home I realized that I had just been given a little gift. This quiet paradise is right in our backyard, a perfect place to play and explore. We talked about all the fun we'll have there finding leaves, and the tracks we might discover in the snow there this winter. The kids' voices were, as always, brimming with hope.

This has been a long season of change and heartache for me. I'm grateful that God in His goodness sees fit to give me little gifts along the way to encourage me further, to remind me to hope. His mercies are new every day, and I was reminded last week to open my eyes and take them in. There's great joy in knowing that He has much more to surprise me with as I persevere through finding new friends, a new church, a new life.

I wait, expectantly.