"I need nine more months," I whispered as I anxiously sat on the sofa across from my husband.
I'm very pregnant with our first precious baby girl. She will be making her appearance any time now. The nursery is set, the clothes washed and hung up, and the baby books read. My heart is bursting with gratefulness for this gift. Yet, I don't feel ready. I feel that I'm standing on the boundary of a new wilderness land that is to be my home. I'll never return to the land that has been known to me all of these years. I love the land behind. Full of struggles and growth, independence and adventure, the Lord's faithfulness to me.
Yet, the land in front is better, fuller, richer, more wild and free, demanding more and giving more. I'm leaning over the threshold, tenuously held back by an encompassing labor that will rush in new life. It's a labor that will leave me more alive than I've ever been, holding a tiny new soul who's embarking on her very own first adventure.
In the Old Testament book of Joshua, we find a much grander story of the nomadic Hebrew people on the verge of inhabiting their own new land. The Hebrew people were a large, ancient group made up of 12 tribes. Two of these tribes had descended from Joseph (the multicolored coat Joseph). The Lord had just finished dividing up the new Promised Land into 12 plots to give to the 12 tribes. After hearing their allotment, the two tribes of Joseph did not respond in gratitude. Instead, they complained that their land was not satisfactory. It wasn't big enough or good enough to house their people as they expected.
Like these two tribes who had just been allotted their new promised land, I have been granted a new land. And just like them, I have responded by anxiously whispering-- not to my husband-- but to the Lord, "This land is not enough." I need more time. I need more space. I'm not ready. You haven't given me what I need. I don't trust you.
A few tribes down the road, we see another family allotted a plot of land--but this time with a very different response. At the head there stands an old man with wild eyes named Caleb. He is one of the only remaining in his generation and is known for spying out the Promised Land forty years earlier. At that time, the land was inhabited by hostile enemies who were fearsome warriors. In spite of this reality, Caleb came back to the rest of the tribes with an optimistic report, declaring that the Lord would go before them and grant them this land as he had already promised he would. In his forties, Caleb knew the Lord was giving them the land, and he was ready to act. Now in his eighties, his strength and resolve remain intact. He's old and bold and fearlessly ready to enter into the untamed land the Lord has promised. He leads his family and his tribe into the unknown with a sure promise, "Be strong and very courageous, for the Lord is with us."
I'm joining the tribe of Caleb. I'm choosing to look over with wild, trusting eyes into the beautiful land the Lord has provided.
And like that great shepherd-king David I say, "The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." (Psalms 16:5-6)
The Lord has lovingly placed boundary lines around each of us. They are good lines encircling good things, even though they may painfully pull out of us what should not be there. Whether today it's a new, unknown land or an old, weary land or a dead, dry land may we be a company of Calebs, declaring the Lord's faithfulness to us in whatever he has allotted.
After a long, winding journey of anticipation and unknowns Sam and I joyfully (and finally!) tied the knot. We had the southern, sweet and hugely talented Meshali Mitchell as our photographer. You can find her work here. The first two photos below were snapped by another of our amazingly talented photographer friends Cassie of Cassie Loree Photography.
CULTURESHOCK, intense and unexpected assaulted me for the first several months of my life in Vienna, Austria. Previous blogs have highlighted some of my disparaging feelings on specific aspects of this culture shock extravaganza. I will be home to Texas all too soon. Consequently, this is the perfect time to reflect on some things I have grown to love and cherish about my new found European home. Join, read on and maybe, just maybe you will smell a smell, taste a taste, or hear a heart-thumping beat of the timeless rhythm of Vienna.
what is vienna..?
Hundred year old buildings hiding history- victories and defeats of almost forgotten laughs and tears.
Majestic wrought iron lampposts illuminating the old downtown.
Gothic cathedrals and tile roof ceilings destroyed once by bombs and rebuilt to tell a new story.
Fire engine red street trams free of air conditioning and gasoline.
Streets dedicated just to walking, and lanes just for biking.
Horses in blinders pulling freshly painted wagons of tourists.
Stoic, wintry Austrian faces that slowly blossom into spring time grins.
The German language- prematurely considered harsh and halting but now uniquely melodic and exciting.
Old men and women walking into their eighties, outfitted impeccably in subtle accents of their traditional Trachten attire.
The Wienerwald (Viennese woods) atop rolling hills surrounding the city inviting, inviting, inviting.
Little roads and still smaller cars circling and winding amid districts 1-23.
Discount airlines whisking passengers away to places like Paris and Prague for something like $65 dollars.
Grand, ancient operas in evening and old, overgrown cemeteries leading to Mozart's shared public grave.
Friendly Turkish kebap stand owners and the tingling taste of a cool, crisp Almdudler.
Loud and tasty aromas winding and ascending up and through the tiny Naschmarkt walkways on any given Saturday morning.
Emerging into open air fleamarkets for a healthy dose of bargaining and bartering.
Italian neighbors, Romanian roommates, and friends from the world over.
Sprawling country palaces and imposing city residences.
Ancient Vindobona's ruins from past Roman time and the flowing, winding Danube cutting the city in two.
Dazzling Austrian Alps and resulting clear, cold tap water pumped right into my faucet.
GrüßGott greetings and Auf Wiedersehen farewells.
Sunday store closings offering a Sabbath rest long forgotten by Americans.
This, my friends, is Vienna.
Today my adventure was to Stadtpark with blanket, bathing suit, and book in tow to join the local Saturday sunbathers. Blue sky contrasted green grass blankets specked with tiny white daisy dots. Bouncy accordian tunes coming from a street musician invited me to stay longer and longer. Soon enough though, his distant music was drowned out by another. Floating sweetly over walls of fresh green bushes wrapped up in old wrought iron gates came the nostalgic "Edelweiss" performed by a hidden choir of lovely Austrian voices. And in this moment, I was taken in by a country not my own and a people foreign to my head but familiar to my heart.
Wien, Wien, Wien. Du bist meine Liebling. Ich komme aus Texas aber mein Herz ist in Wien.
"So each generation should set its hope anew on God,
not forgetting his glorious miracles
and obeying his commands.
Then they will not be like their ancestors--
stubborn, rebellious, and unfaithful,
refusing to give their hearts to God." Psalm78:7-8
God, bless this city, your city. Romance its people, your people. May your face shine on its past, its present, and its future. Only then will she become truly glorious with the glory that is only in your name. Jesus, please do not forget Vienna. Do not forget your Austria. Come after hearts so that they may be reminded of the hope found in your love.
welcome Audrey DeFord is an artist, illustrator, wife, momma, believer. But not in that order. She currently resides in Texas with her husband Sam, baby girl Flora, French bully Shortstack, & 12