This is day 20 in a series: 31 Letters from London. In October, I’m doing something a little different and writing to you about the realities of life as an expat; finding the nearness of God through random experiences with new culture. It’s important to begin here and find the collection of letters here. We’re breaking for Sabbath every Sunday.
I avoid using change to pay for . . . . anything. I’m still unsure about the value assigned to each shiny coin in my wallet. Shhh! Don’t let anyone I’m green when it comes to money.
I came home from the Cotswolds with brown paper bags loaded with fresh produce — potatoes with dirt dried onto the skin, black figs, parsnips and carrots with green parslied tops about a foot long. When the cashier asked if I wanted her to cut them off, I hesitated because they were such a thing of beauty. In the end, practicality won out.
Overzealous with all things grown fresh and local, I bought a huge bag of bird seed, scooped out in a clear plastic bag. Such a bargain. When I got home and showed H, he reminded me we don’t have a bird feeder.
This is part of moving overseas. I forget what I left behind.
I had three bird feeders hanging in trees in the US but gave them all away to friends before moving to London. Now I have a bag of bird seed lying on the kitchen floor, waiting.
On Saturday, we woke up ambivalent about an imminent trip to Costco. A borrowed car is parked next to the house; an extravagance of riches. And yet, Costco on Saturday, need I say more about that?
Ten miles away, it takes an hour to get there in traffic. The great thing about driving once in a while is it confirms we don’t want to be driving regularly. We offer thanks on the altar of the dashboard for the trains, buses and the underground, readily accessible to us around the city.
A trip to Costco means we can eat beef. I know, I feel like a Charles Dickens character in one of his novels by saying that. The truth is we are living on a shoe string unlike Lady Mary in Downton Abbey. It’s so easy to idealize British life by watching how less than 1% of the population actually live.
H and I are back to living like we used to as missionaries with YWAM when we were first married. I am learning to be creative with chicken and any kind of ground meat (or minced as they call it here in the UK).
Moving to London wasn’t a decision about upward mobility, we took a 75% pay cut because we feel God wants us here.
Those vegetables simmer in a fragrant stew filling up the house with the aroma of God’s faithfulness and Ellie Holcomb’s sweet voice plays in the kitchen. Her lyrics cradled me when I needed comfort during our waiting period to London but now they are songs of worship, celebrating His goodness.
Green apples lying like emeralds glistening in the grass in the Cotswolds are bubbling in my first proper apple cinnamon cake, a Mary Berry recipe.
When we gather around the table, candles flaming and dripping wax, Harrison leans his head back, closes his eyes and inhales curls of steam rising in the bowl in front of him. “Thank God we get to eat beef, I’ve been craving it,” he admits.
Yes, God bless us, every one! We are thankful for what we have taken for granted.
So fun to go there with you Shelly. I can smell that beef now. Yummy
Glad to have you here with me Kelly. I hope you are feeling well.
All these scenes are so alive with details that money couldn’t enhance. This post reminds me that some of my favorite literary families as a child were the ones who made life full in their poverty — the Marches, the Peppers, the Sowerbys (Secret Garden)… and now you’ve made me richer in noticing what is around me. 🙂
(For the bird seed — there is always the t.p. roll + peanut butter feeder idea?)
Your comment put a smile on my face and made me think about all the stories we love that are classics that have poverty as part of the story line. Thanks for shedding some hope here.
I see in my mind’s eye, our Mighty Jehovah Jireh opening His hands to pour you out a blessing you cannot contain, Shelly. (malachi blessing, as you have “tithed” Him your lives to go where He leads…). Ps 84… No good thing will he withhold… as you raise your hearts to Him, look to and expect Him to act on your behalf in ways beyond your imagination (Eph 3:20 ways!) Where there is lack, He is able to show Himself mighty on your behalf… and to make you a greater blessing to others than you’ve yet known…
I receive this Pam and feel God’s anointing on your words. Thank you for being here.
We’ll agree and speak it out in faith over you together, Shelly…the kind of thanking God before we see it faith Paul talks of in Romans 🙂 – it’s what he keeps reminding me in my own life too, to not speak poverty and lack over myself when He has favor and anointing even (or especially, I guess) when I don’t yet see it there… like the bountiful beauty of the Secret Garden (your top photo in this post reminds me of that)…
A season of less can really open our eyes to bounty, even as we acknowledge the reality that there are things we miss.
The local abandoned railway track close to my home has provided lovely surprises during a couple of tight years – bluebells, blackberries, wild flowering sweet-peas, and just this past weekend a bunch of softest mauve clover to tuck in a tiny bottle for a celebratory tea for a friend. Truth is, they may have gone unnoticed at another time.
I’m sure that I idealize the UK – no doubt damp, grey days, poor heating and lack of favourite foods are temptations for complaint. I am glad for you that there are days for feasting on meat!
Thinking about this again, and think ‘gone unnoticed’ is overstating it, but ‘under-appreciated’ for sure.