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.

Kickstarting Our Homeschool Year 2018/2019 : Steps towards Restful, Relational and Rich Learning.

This is our 6th year of homeschooling life in our home. I am hoping that with time I am learning more about what works in our family and what leads us quickly down the path of hurried, anxious and frustrated homeschooling. This usually starts with me as the mom/teacher and then trickling down to the children, until we are all taking turns sniffing our tears from sheer exasperation and left wondering why on earth we are still doing this homeschooling thing. Aaah! but you see, each year I think I grow little wiser, and a little okay with not checking all the boxes.

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I have learnt the painful way,  that the fastest way to drain the life out of our homeschool fire is to load our early days with heavy logs right at the onset of the year.  Yes! A sure way to kill the passion for an awesome year of learning is to try to create pinterest-worthy expectations of myself, my kids and what a purchased curriculum resource can deliver to our homeschool. I have learnt that it helps to start with a clear idea of what you want the year to be, and specifically what words will capture  the essence of  hopes you carry in your heart for the year.  For me, I know that  I want a homeschool year that is Restful, Relational, and full of Rich Learning. Not one that is rushed, and ” heavy laden with much toil”! When we are restful, cultivating relations with each other and with great ideas, and making room for the colors and textures of meaningful learning, then we are no longer pursuing learning as a list of to do’s, but rather the pursuit of all things True, Good and Beautiful.

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To kickstart this year of restful, relational and rich learning, I am taking deliberate steps to cultivate habits and attitudes that I believe will get us moving into the right direction. This is not an exhausted list, it is merely one that I have identified after honest reflection during the summer break, taking into account where we all are at as a family and where we want to be.

1) Practice healthy rhythms that steward time well and nurtures body, soul, and mind. Sleep early. Keep first things first. Dust off the gym shoes. Eat well. Drink tea. Create. Mind your own business.

2) Remove distractions in order to stay connected, present and content. Set a time for everything, and aim to be faithful with the hours dedicated to homeschooling. Look into each others eyes instead of at the screen.

3) Keep learning time simple and sweet, while encouraging natural inquiry. Smile and laugh a lot! Take breaks. Allow life to happen in all it’s imperfect little ways. Record the silly questions children ask, take note of the tough ones too, see the clues hidden in their questions and the door of opportunity to go on rabbit trails.

4) Engage all the senses in learning, play, sing, touch, talk, taste, go and see places, discover, explore, take time to smell the roses, get hands dirty, listen, be silent, create, examine, live the life of learning, do it like you are having a long conversation with all the many facets of life.

5) Encourage responsibility and ownership of children’s own learning. Set goals and clear milestones to be celebrated. Build up with your words everyday. These a beautiful, unique people who really matter.

6) Take time to reflect and capture memories of the year’s learning journey. Take pictures, write journal entries, reflect and take note to stay grateful. Model this habit of reflection with the kids.

I hope these simple intentional practices will give as a good start towards a year of restful, relational and rich learning. I know that it will take courage to pursue these because these days it take courage to live from a place of rest and trust, rather than from the empty flurry of activity, that is fueled by the fear of failure, or the subtle dread of not being good enough. And I believe I can be courageous because we do not walk this path alone. Our heavenly Father has promised never to leave us, nor to forsake us. He carries our world in His hands, and sets us free to dance our way into the rest that comes from Him. It’s going to be a great year of learning. I hope it is for you too.

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I Take Myself Way Too Seriously: Staying ON! the Social Media Grid!

I think I take myself way too seriously! And sometimes I get a little OCD about small things. Seriously, going off the social media grid sounds like a really noble idea, but honestly it’s a bit much! I am already suffocating under my own self induced agony. Enter wisdom and grace please!

I am a stay at home mom of three, homeschooling 2 and managing an entire household “The Gifts of Imperfection” by day and “ The Children of Ashton Place” by night. I have enough on my plate! And in all realness I am a pretty intentional woman, who has the wisdom and grace to make different choices about what I give space for in my time.  Doing that is more realistic than my previous cut and dry approach!

So for all those who were keen to find out if I would survive being off social media, the short answer is, we all will survive without it, but what purpose do I actually want it to serve!  So that’s it! The shortest experiment I ever engaged in!