Cultivating Restful Homeschool Moments

We decided to change the scenery of our typical homeschool Friday and headed to the spacious light filled space of our public library.

We booked ourselves a private conference room and the idea was that we would cover our language arts curriculum and spend some time reading aloud together-style before going out to a play date with some friends. I really should have know better than to expect that this tidy little plan would hold amidst the lure of the beautiful books that welcomed us at the Children’s floor of the library. The books called to my kids much like the Pied Piper and they immediately stepped in line and raced to find their reading treasures. Before long they had found their stash of great books and were delving right into them, with joy and focus. I love to see their love for books and for reading. I watched them read contently for a while and was tempted to interrupt them in order to execute original idea for coming, but I refrained from diverting their attention from something I knew they were loving.

“Mommy, reading is my favourite subject”

I decided to let go and allow the time and space to be what it is: A valuable and rich time for them to read and relish the books they had chosen for themselves. There was life in the moment. I saw it and chose to yield to it. There was light in their eyes and I stepped into the moment with them, instead of casting a shadow with my amazing plan.

Lately, I have been reflecting on my role as a restful home-maker and homeschooling mom. I do not deny the importance of creating clear structure and daily rhythms for our homeschool days. However, structures, routines and plans do not produce restful living. I believe that staying in a moment, being present in it and allowing it to be what it flows into can do far more than a well laid out plan can. Letting a moment simply be, invites “be still and know and know that I am God”, Psalm 46:10. For a person like me who loves to make things better and loves to “fix things”, this is easier said than done. Today’s letting go moment, is another celebration for someone like me. I am learning to trust and yield….learning!

Your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be their peace.
Isaiah 54:13

I have held this verse in Isaiah really close to my heart since the very beginning of our homeschooling journey . And I honestly cannot tell you just how much of a relief it has been for me lately, to know that this education thing is not all up to me…phew!

Moms, we are not the authors and perfectors of our children’s lives. We have the privilege of stewarding an atmosphere within our daily lives at home that affirms our children as unique individuals with great value and worth. They are neither our badges of success, nor are they symptoms of our failures. They belong to their Creator and we partner with Him to make room for life, love and truth to flow freely from His heart to theirs.

I cherish our homeschool days, and choose to see the gifts hidden within our moments, even when plans change and ideas never go as planned. Each day that we spend together is time well spent. Each moment carries its own wings, which can be unclipped and allowed to fly.

His Presence At Bloomingdale Court

To be known and loved, is to be full. To be full is to be content.

I am sitting here in my bed on a snowy day. I feel cocooned and wrapped in tight like a baby swaddled in a blanket. I feel a sense of joy, the deep quiet kind of joy that cannot be tagged with a particular event, moment, or selfie, but rather the kind that has a steady flow like a still brook gathering its waters into a mighty waterfall. I am learning to let go and receive the love of my Heavenly Father, and I am soaking it all in. This has been my journey since we arrived here on Valentine’s Day, three years ago.

Sometimes God takes us away to far away places, away from the familiar, away from comfort and away from the safety and security of people we are known by and submerges us into the unknown, just so He can show up all by Himself and win us all over again back to Himself, back to the place where we find contentment with only Him. Three years of living in the US, has been three years of just that.

”Come Away with me, my beautiful one”.

All the memories we are making here, all the people we are meeting, all the experiences and perspectives we are being enriched by, does not compare to the absolute joy of discovering more of the depth of the love of God and just how close He is to us and the daily overflow of His grace to us.

I remember three years ago, stepping into our new home on Bloomingdale Court, and feeling overwhelmed and pulled apart, excited but stripped, with a hope in our hearts but with uncertainties on every side. Stepping into this new atmosphere, the air felt different and unfamiliar. The home we left in South Africa held many fortified victories and well- cultivated memories of God’s faithfulness. Every room and every corner was a reminder of the renovating work of the Holy Spirit in our family. As a woman, who is a stay-at-home mom, restfulhomemaker, my new domain felt unfamiliar, empty, and cold. It needed new life and new deep breaths and I knew I could not provide for the new demands that our new life required. Cultivating life at home is only possible when the LifeGiver steps into the room. I knew that God had promised never to leave nor forsake us, but to be honest, I had lost my bearings in the stress of the transition and I was desperate to find my feet on solid ground again.

One night in my empty living room, I stood within the echoes of the four strange walls and I reached for the only tool I knew well. I steadied my heart to worship. I prayed and sang, and prayed and sang. Each spoken word, a sound and a desperate cry for the promise of His Presence to come close. I sought the peace that surpasses all understanding. I sought the breath that I knew would free my heavy-burdened heart. I yearned to connect with the Father’s heart. I wanted the one thing that I knew would change everything: His Presence in my new world. His Presence with us at Bloomingdale Court.

All of a sudden in that dark, still, empty space…..LIGHT CAME!

You don’t give yourself in pieces You don’t hide yourself to tease us (Pieces by Amanda Cook)

He came. Jesus walked into that space in Bloomingdale Court, and I took a good deep breath again.

He stepped into my new world, my new space, my new home, and He filled my heart…… with Himself.

Aaaah….deep, deep, deep breathing again. I found my breath again. And I knew that everything was going to be more than okay. I knew that He would give us fullness of life inte emptiest of places. I knew that life had come to Bloomingdale Court.

This was exactly three years ago, and since then I have enjoyed discovering that He answered that prayer that night, not only because it was the cry of my heart; no, He answered because that prayer was exactly what was burning on His heart as well. The one thing He desired was to simply be with me. To be known and loved by Him.

And today, here I am, sitting with showers of snow falling all around me, thinking about how much He has pursued me, how much he catches and holds all our memories in His hands, how much He sees more in us than what my social media profile can reveal, and how much value and worth He has restored in me, simply by choosing to be with me, Every. Single. Day.

I’m content with You, my heart is filled by You.

Winter’s Content Song

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I find myself closing my eyes and letting the fresh cold breeze of winter brush my face. Only for a little bit though because I was born in Ghana and I still have that magnetic pull towards warm spaces running through my bones. But even I must concede that winter’s quiet and simple song has truly won me over.

On any given day, I drive around my neighborhood or watch my kids play outside with a deep sense of gratitude that we, the clan from South Africa, get to be here and see and feel and touch all of this. All of this fluffy snow, all of this clear breeze, all of this strange business of shoveling snow and salting driveways. It’s all still so different from our lives three years ago in South Africa, that I can’t help but wish I could pick all these new experiences into my pocket and shove it in there for posterity sake.

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And yet…as the snow begins to melt away, I am reminded that these moments, as spectacular and surreal as they are, are slipping away like melting snow stuffed in a pocket. These experiences we are having of life in another space, are truly a treasure to behold and the temptation to try and hold tightly to these are quite futile. I am learning that it takes discipline to stay in each moment and in each season of life without wishing it away, or holding it too tightly. Life’s changing seasons are best received as a gift. One that is treasured and held loosely so that the air continues to breathe around it.

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I am so grateful for the restful space I find myself in right now. And this winter gives full expression to this. Somehow from my busy and frantic days of yesterday, I find myself yielding more and more to contentment. The contentment of knowing that my family and I are on a journey and although life is not always sunshine and roses, it is worth embracing and resting into. I love that when the busy flurry of activities are stripped away with the last fall of autumn leaves,  the simple beauty of snowflakes and quiet evenings near the fireplace brings all the warmth we need.

And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there.

1 Corinthians 7:17 The Message (MSG)

The Gift That Came to Stay

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The moment when peace walks into a room and love completely wraps around you, steadying your world and bringing fullness into all those cold and empty spaces. That is the moment when the divine steps into the futility of your best attempt at doing this thing called life; and although you may unravel, the surrender of the old into freedom of the new, ignites the core of your being and makes you come alive. This has been my story and my journey of knowing and loving the Savior, the Christ who was born in Bethlehem.

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And there was light!

There have been many great and memorable moments in my life. The day I married the love of my life and my best friend and the day each of my three children lay for the first time in my arms. But I have to be honest and say that the day I decided to give my heart completely to the Savior Jesus did not come in the form of a single remarkable moment.

It began when I was just five, and it culminated in high school, when the clarity and inescapable truth of having been pursued all along by Him, led me to surrender. There was nothing too spectacular about that moment. I sat on a bench under a tree, and wrote a letter to God, who although I did not see, I believed knew me and I believed came for my heart to be His. In my letter, I spoke my response to deep down, unshakeable realization that this massive and spectacular God of the universe, shaped and formed me  and was stepping into my world, if I would only answer the door.

” For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life”, John 3:16. 

As the years have rolled on by, the reality of this decision has become the essence of my beautiful life.  I wake  in the morning to find Him still here. My surprise and relief reminds me that my faith is a journey of learning to trust that He is the gift that came to stay and will never go away. I have been a tough nut to crack, because too much pain and disappointment can rob you of the innocence of simply believing that you are loved. So despite all my resistances, He has continued to relentlessly pursue my heart.  He is here, day after day, right where He said he would be. By my side and never leaving. Even on my worst days and my not so glorious and unremarkable moments., He stays. Yes! He stays! He is the gift that came to stay.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS

 

The Free Little Girl Inside

Today, I watched two adorable little kids playfully skip, jump and dance right in front of me. I was waiting for my daughter at her ballet class. The two little dancers were quite oblivious to my observations and they went about moving their bodies in any old manner, while giggling approvingly at their own attempts at dancing. They were abandoned and full of joy.

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I thought of the much older class of ballet students inside the four walls I was waiting outside of. Indeed the much more serious affair of instruction about structure, technique, posture and control, for the older blooming dancers, was equally worthwhile to observe. However, the contrast made me smile and sent my thoughts to how the two scenes both hold true for the life of an adult woman like me. I paused to remember the playful little girl dancing and leaping merrily on the edges of the woman that I am now and the one I hope to be. I paused to remember the free little girl alive and well on the inside of me.

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I love the places of playful exploration that little kids get to enjoy as they get introduced to the world of dance. The stage where there are no expectations placed on them, but only the freedom and permission to love the tripping over of their little feet and the out-of- balance-but -oh-so-sweet attempts of their three year old selves. When you are young you are allowed to try and it is quite ok not to get things right.

Grace meets you at every turn and you can fall and trip, while the fear of failure with its intimidating glares, never captures your attention.

I must confess that I live within the tension of the little carefree dancer and the woman who knows more and has learnt a great deal over many years. I would like to think I have taken some leaps of faith and I have yielded to the process of strengthening my core through replacing old lies with the brightness of truth. But, it is a strange and curious thing that while I do my best to jump, skip and dance, many times I find that all that I can master up is an awkward, out-of -balance display of my own limitations and my own clumsy feet, while trying to stay grounded in a world that I have very little control over.

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I am learning just how much I need the strength and loving embrace of my loving  Father  in heaven, who holds me steady in his arms and always smiles when I walk into the room. I prefer to spend time with Him. I breathe in deeper and better when I surrender and come into that secret place where it’s okay to be the clumsy, unpolished dancer in the making. For I am welcomed as I am. I find that the longer I stay here, the stronger I feel and yet the more like a child I become.

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To keep the fearless heart of a child, while growing and flourishing into maturity is the challenge we can all relate to. My encouragement to myself and to you, is that if we get utterly lost while meandering along the road to becoming the more striking, sophisticated and serious dancer on life’s stage, I hope that we remember: there is always grace waiting to embrace us and we can always lean back and find the free little girl inside.