I was expecting to step into a fierce war and yet there He was, on a beautiful lush field simply waiting for me. He is seated with a lean to His side, a quiet afternoon for the two of us. I was there alone with Him. In the rest of His embrace.
He gave me this place of rest. He paid the price for me to live here. He is without a care in the world. No worries, no fears and no trepidation. He begins to paint a vivid picture in my mind. His brush strokes are gentle but bold and joyful. Nothing harsh, nothing agitated, a strength and confidence in every move He makes. And though my enemies contemplate a strike, the shield of love is all around. In this sacred, secret place, He covers and holds me. He covers the story He is lovingly writing. The narration of a life at rest. True love and true friendship, lastly victory, promises fulfilled.
Here I am Lord at your feet, the feet that walked this earth for me. The feet that steps into the impossible. The feet that brings good news of peace.
Here I am Lord. Here I am at your feet. A simple, quiet and spacious place carved out just for us. Read that new story over me, open my eyes to those new pictures, let this world I have in you, spread with radiance and grace.
Prince of peace and Lord of lords, I will abide in You forever more.
“ Rest my dear….Rest! We will paint new pictures and tell new stories. We will create a world without fear. Look Up! The war is over.”
I have a love/hate relationship with being a stay-at-home mom and I am not ashamed to say it! Don’t get me wrong! I love love love….love my family and a fully own my decision to invest the biggest chunk of my time as a woman, into creating a beautiful, restful and life-giving space called HOME. But let’s be honest, far too often, MOST of my days at home are very far from beautiful and restful. They are more like draining, noisy and imperfect.
Being a stay-at-home mom has brought up more insecurities than any other aspect of my life. On top of all this, I am one of those “crazy” ones who willingly add homeschooling to their already loaded stack of juggling hats. Really?
Why is this stay-at-home gig such an AMAZING and ANNOYING reality all at the same time? Why do I feel on one hand, so blessed to be raising the leaders of tomorrow, but on the other feel stuck and stretched behind the four walls of laundry, meals, conflict mediation, debriefing the hurt child, folding more laundry, homeschooling, and the endless interruptions and questions, and DEMANDS from EVERYBODY…….?! Aaaah that feels better, just had to get that off my chest!
Here are my current 5 reasons, why being a stay-at-home moms sucks big time!
The stay-at-home mom receives zero compensation or raises for all her hard work. I seriously think that if I was paid a hefty income for my labour of love at home, I would feel so much better. That immediate acknowledge that I am doing something important is so missing in this equation. I need to talk to my husband about this.
The stay-at-home mom is always disturbed when she trying to have alone time or write a blog (LIKE WHAT HAPPENED JUST NOW!). You have to jump through so many hoops to have a me-space. Someone should start a “Mommy Me-Space” service that acts as your own personal assistant. It sends fancy formal notifications to your entire family letting them know the blocks of time you ARE NOT AVAILABLE.
Most woman-of-the-year awards are not given to stay-at-home moms because we don’t exactly fit the mold of the successful woman, who can have it all. The career, the husband, the kids, the Marie Kondo home and still sexy as ever with her gym-chiseled body and kick-ass go-getter personality. I mean there is no masters degree to be acquired before taking up our position as “domestic practitioner” and no platform really celebrates the efforts from our sometimes very hidden lives. Can we start getting awards at the end of a long difficult year please?
African stay-at-home mom especially amongst educated middle-class African communities are viewed as either lazy or very rich…but mostly lazy. Too lazy to work or too spoiled to work. I have heard it all. Most African families place a high value for their girls getting an education. And the best marriage partner that everyone is looking for is the professional with a high earning potential. The two become a team to be reckoned with so that their kids can have a better life and attend fab schools paid for by two working parents. Most of the time my decision to stay-at-home is not celebrated as a display of intelligent thinking, but a mere curiosity at best. The last time I met a fellow Ghanaian who homeschools as well, we became instant friends because we could relate to the lonely path that being a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom can feel like.
Stay-at-home moms stare so long into the eyes of their children everyday and are with them all the time that honestly the comfort of our constant and familiar presence with our kids can easily breed contempt. You know the disregard for your sense of being and existence and the disrespect that can easily creep in. Eish! The constant setting of boundaries and gentle dismantling of the idea that our lives revolves around our kids . I totally hate this feeling and it is my prayer that although I fully embrace and celebrate my decision to be a stay-at-home mom, I hope that my daughter especially will not look down on me for it.
Did you see the picture I pinned at the beginning of this blog post? If you didn’t, go back and take a look at the serenity that I am exuding in that picture and the stillness that seems to wrap itself around me. That picture is a wonderful example of the calm before the storm for the stay-at-home mom. Because right after that wonderful photoshoot of our “perfect family” I was right back into the unglamorous life of feeding, and cleaning for the arrival of quests to our home and mediating yet another squabble between the kids about who gets to do what.
Right now, it’s late. I have been writing this blog for a while and I know that although my kids are now fast asleep, my husband is waiting upstairs for me …..:)
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.
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 BloomingdaleCourt, 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, restful–home–maker, 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 nevertoleavenorforsakeus, 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!
Youdon’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 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.
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.
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.
Our Gratitude Challenge was an intentional attempt to catch all the tiny drops of rain falling over our lives on a daily basis. We have been counting our blessings one by one and the end of our challenge perfectly aligned with the end of the school year. We have much to celebrate and be thankful for!
So we got together and created a gratitude display of the highlights of this year so far.
This was a tangible and creative expression for us as a family. We reflected on our school year and family and found pictures, words and inspiring hymns and quotes. I had picked up some pine planks that someone was getting rid and the ideas sprung from that. I used gift wrapping to modge podge every second plank. And then glued on small clothing pegs to hold the gratitude reflections.
What we ended up with was a display that we can hang up and keep adding to throughout the year.
I am also using the gratitude board to inspire me for preparing for our family learning life in the upcoming school year. We will carry occasionally use the question prompts from our gratitude jar and use it throughout the year.
For now our heart is full of gratitude and thanks for all that we are as a family and for the journey that we are on. I am going to put up my feet with some wonderful good reads over the summer, while ensuring that I am making time to rest, reconnect and revive for the new school year.
I am confident that gratitude will continue to inspire us to move wholeheartedly into all the new things ahead of us.