## Thursday, October 20, 2011

### Neither Snow, Nor Rain, Nor Gloom of Night

One day last week, the BabyGirl forced me to take her on a walk.

We were playing outside, which is her #1 all-time favorite thing to do.  We hadn't been out there very long when she went in the garage and started pulling at the stroller.  Just the day before we'd had a playdate at a potential friend's house, and they had a little doll stroller that the BabyGirl LOVED.  She pushed that doll stroller all over their house.  So when she was yanking at the stroller, i thought she wanted to push it around.  Granted, it is much more difficult for her to maneuver than a doll stroller, but she doesn't always think these kinds of things through.

I put the stroller out on the driveway for her to push around.  She played with it for about 0.5 seconds and then started emphatically motioning toward the seat of the stroller.  I said to her incredulously, "You want to get IN the stroller?"

The reason that i was incredulous is because we were currently playing outside.  Usually, nothing trumps playing outside.  I have never in her short little life seen her want to do anything else while she is playing outside.  Playing outside is Optimus Prime, and nothing in the world matters while you are playing outside.  Not mealtime, not naptime, not diaper changes, not thunderstorms, nothing.  She will play outside regardless of the weather.  I had a hard time believing that she wanted to get in the stroller.

Nonetheless, she ceased her whining when i posed her the question, so as a test i put her in the stroller, fully believing she would be very unhappy once she was in there.

She was not unhappy.

I thought to myself, "Great!  I have a couple of things to do around the yard, and with you contained in the stroller i can actually do them."  I pushed her over to a corner of the yard and started picking up some debris.  She then began fussing and vehemently motioning to the back of the stroller.  I said, "I knew it!  You don't actually want to be in the stroller; you want to push it around."

I started unfastening the straps in order to take her out of the stroller; major protesting ensued.  She was still pointing behind the stroller.  I said (incredulously once again), "You want me to push you in the stroller?"

Finally, after this long game of charades, it dawned on me that she must want to go for a walk.  I asked, "Walk???  You want to go for a walk?"

She exploded into happiness, smiled from ear to ear, and said, "Wok!"

I said, "Um, okay i guess.  But i need to get my phone first."  I ran inside to grab my phone and then we departed on our walk.  About 2 minutes into it, i realized that i needed to go to the bathroom and if i'd been in charge, i also would have worn different shoes.  The BabyGirl, however, had it made in the shade.  She was relaxing in the comfort and convenience of the stroller, enjoying the blue sky and fresh air while leaving all the physical work to me.  How sweet.

Yesterday she was at it again.  It was late afternoon, and i was washing dishes.  She put on her shoes, brought me her jacket, and said, "Outside!?!"  It was veiled as a question but she intended it as more of a demand.  The problem was that it was really cold outside.  The jacket she had brought me wasn't going to cut it.  I had not yet unpacked my winter outerwear.  Somewhere in the deep recesses of the basement were boxes of stuff we hadn't gotten to yet, and my scarf\gloves\hat were in one of those boxes.  I acquiesced to her request anyway, and bundled up the best i could, although it definitely wasn't sufficient.  She had a brand new winter coat that had just arrived from Granny, so she was appropriately dressed and had nothing to worry about.

We went outside, and it was very unpleasant.  Gray.  Overcast.  Cold.  Not a soul was out there.  Usually there are people out walking their dogs, and kids playing in their yards, but today the world was deserted.  I said to her, "Don't you see how ridiculous this is?  No one else is out here!"

She giggled and said with satisfaction, "Outside!"

Her facial expression seemed to say, "You were born in Georgia, so we all know that you are a pansy, but i was born in the Frozen Tundra, and this weather is nothing to me."

She took off running down the sidewalk.  Usually she only goes to a certain point and then stops and turns around, but this time she ran all the way down the block.  When we reached the intersection, she turned left and kept going.  We were now in front of our backyard-neighbor's house.  Does that make sense?  The house whose backyard borders mine.  Our backyard-neighbors have a beautiful garden.  These people are real professionals.  I've seen the house's inhabitants from a distance, but we hadn't met yet.  It appeared to be an elderly lady and her grown daughter.

Well wouldn't you know, as we were running past their house, the elderly lady came out the front door!  She was headed out for a walk too.  We finally got the chance to meet each other.  She was very friendly, and said that she enjoyed seeing the BabyGirl play outside.  She said that we could come over anytime, and when the weather is nice the BabyGirl should come play in her yard.

The nice lady set out for her walk, and we turned around to run back towards our house.  The BabyGirl and i continued to play outside for a while, until i was so cold that i couldn't take it anymore.  I dragged her into the house kicking and screaming.  Her cheeks were rudolf-red, her eyes were watering from the cold, and her nose was running, yet she still wanted to stay outside.  She put up a fight as i took of her coat, and she put up a fight as i took of her shoes.

We had been inside for a few minutes when the doorbell rang.  It was the Backyard Neighbor!  She said, "I was wondering if you and your Little One would like to come over and pick some flowers."  Of course we did!  I told the BabyGirl that her wish had been granted, we are going back outside.  We put our shoes and coats back on and jaunted across the backyard.

The Backyard Neighbor had already picked a handful of flowers to give to me, and indicated which area the BabyGirl was allowed to pick from.  Most of them were sad little flowers, who, having already offered their glory to the world, were preparing to succumb to the colder temperatures.  Then the Backyard Neighbor asked if i would like some mint.  My heart stopped in my chest.  Mint?  Did she say mint?

"Oh yes, i have scads of it! I'll never get rid of it before winter."  She handed me an armful.

You don't know this, but her mint was an enormous answer to prayer.  Yes, something as simple as fresh mint was God's gift directly to my heart.  I only hoped i could make it back home before i bawled my eyes out in wonder and amazement.

The part of the story that i haven't told you yet is that our finances have taken a turn for the dire.  Moving from the Big City to the Kingdom of the Cornstalks was costly, and it used up the majority of our emergency fund.  The first two months that we were here, The Professor only got half a paycheck.  And we are still paying the utilities and assessments for our old condo.

Even now that The Professor is finally getting paid the full amount, we only have $300 per month for all household expenses. That's$300 for the whole month, that has to be used on everything from toilet paper to groceries to diapers.  Earlier this month, both of our cars broke down, and i'll tell you that the bill was well more than \$300.  So suffice it to say that we're broke, and we can't afford most things.

The Professor came across this prayer about relinquishing worldly possessions from A.W. Toser, which has been very meaningful to us:

Father, i want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys.  I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and i do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting.  I come trembling, but i do come.  Please root from my heart all those things which i have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival.  Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious.  Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.
(The Pursuit of God)

Slowly, and painfully, i am learning to surrender my "wants" to Him.  When an item comes to mind that i absolutely don't have the money for, i have to surrender that item to Him.  Halloween costumes?  Don't have the money for it; give it to the Lord.  Candy to hand out to trick-or-treaters?  Don't have the money for it; give it to the Lord.  Coffee?  Give it to the Lord.  Sunday dress shoes for the BabyGirl?  Give it to the Lord.

And just that day, i had surrendered mint to the Lord.  There was this recipe going around pinterest for a lemonade with fresh mint that i'd been just dying to make.  But fresh herbs are expensive here, and it was too frivolous.  We can't waste money on stuff like that, so i had to give it to the Lord, but He gave it back!  He used the BabyGirl to get me outside so that i could meet my neighbor, who gave me her mint.

It was such a small gift in the grand scheme of things, but it brought me so much encouragement.  It called to mind this verse:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39, NIV

The BabyGirl refuses to let anything separate her from the outside, and our Father refuses to let anything separate us from His love.