As I type, I can see cliffs and gardens out the window: Southern France in all her glory, bathed in blue skies and sunshine. We arrived here last week, and it’s still sinking in that this is our home now. I never imagined living somewhere so beautiful.
A year ago, we were living in Kosovo, and I had just found out that I was pregnant. I remember feeling weak and afraid, looking out the window at the dusty minarets and the swarms of blackbirds. I couldn’t picture where we would live as a family, but I knew it wasn’t there. It had been a hard year for me, and I was ready to move on, start fresh somewhere new.
Fresh is a good way to describe this place. The air is warm and dry, and everything grows here. There are cherries at the market now, and later this season we’ll have olives, grapes, and figs. A river runs through the village with waters are so clear you can see every little pebble on the bottom. Flowers bloom wild on its banks.
In town, ancient stone houses nest one against another. Cats lounge on their sunny windowsills, framed by oh-so-French blue shutters and red geraniums. Neighbors say bonjour with the kind of gusto you only hear in small villages. Their eyes crinkle at the sight of my baby.
I love it here.
I’m sure culture shock and language frustration will hit me soon enough, but for now, I’m thankful and awed. Every time Sam and I walk over the bridge, I look out over the river and tell him, I can’t believe this is our life.
I always thought I was built for hard places. I thought I’d live among the poor and the war-torn. I thought my hair would always smell like lignite coal. I cannot stress enough how much this beauty and abundance has surprised me.
I wish I could go back a year ago, tell that scared pregnant girl that things were about to get really good. I wish I could tell her that the view from her window was about to change drastically. That it would go from a sooty Soviet-style nursing home to a lush garden. That she would start her mornings with her little boy on her hip, opening the blue shutters together and breathing in the fresh air.
I’m not into the prosperity gospel. I’m a firm believer in the value of suffering—perhaps even a little too much for my own good. But I do want to say, as I look out my window, that God gives good gifts to his children. He is not lacking in beauty or resources. He loves a good surprise, loves to give exactly what will bring refreshment to our hearts.
If we hadn’t have learned to follow him into the suffering, we probably wouldn’t have followed him here, and we would have missed out on so much.
But here we are, and it is beautiful.