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)

Gratitude Challenge: The End That Inspires Great Beginnings

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Gratitude Challenge: Days 17 and 18

Better late than never, here is what we got up to during days 17 and 18 of this challenge.

During Day 15 and 16 of this challenge, we started using songs as a springboard to reflection, discussion and worship in cultivating gratitude in our home. Any song that you and your family know and love and have a connection to can serve this purpose.

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In this season of our family life and for me personally, the words to the song “Faithful To The End” by Bethel Music  reminds me of where we have come from and the anchor in the truth that our lives are wrapped in the faithfulness of our Father in Heaven who loves us deeply and will never leave us.

[Verse 1]
We’re heaven-spun creations
His pride and adoration
Treasures woven by his love
His careful hands they hold us
Safe within His promise
Of calling and of destiny

[Chorus]
I will sing of all You’ve done
I’ll remember how far You carried me
From beginning until the end
You are faithful, faithful to the end

[Verse 2]
A Father’s heart that’s for me
A never ending story
Of love that’s always chasing me
His kindness overwhelming
And hope for me unending
He’s never given up on me

[Chorus]
I will sing of all You’ve done
I’ll remember how far You carried me
From beginning until the end
You are faithful, faithful to the end

[Outro]
There wasn’t a day
That You weren’t by my side
There wasn’t a day
That You let me fall
All of my life
Your love has been true
All of my life
I will worship You

We have played this song in our home and used for some discussions, prayer prompts and worship.

I am currently reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp in my personal reading.

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I have not finished the book yet, but it has certainly been an inspiring read so far, a reminder of  tremendous power in a deliberately seeing the gifts in every moment despite what life brings to us.

For the last part of this gratitude challenge, we are busy creating a family memory space that will serve as a lasting “memorial stone”. A place to continue capturing gifts of gratitude in our lives.  In the next post I will share some of these ideas and I hope it will inspire you to do the same in your home.

 

 

Gratitude Challenge Day 15 and 16

Songs, Hymns, Poetry and Books shared over meals, tea time and bedtime can be a beautiful and practical way to point hearts towards truth, beauty and goodness. Listening to and reflecting on songs of gratitude is what we did for days 15 and 16 of this challenge.

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We have been listening and playing this song around our home. We got lyrics with its three verses and we had a reflective, worshipful time pondering and discussing:

  • What faithfulness means and what makes God faithful.
  • The the story behind this famous hymn, written by Thomas Chisholm
  • What each of the verses of the songs were about
  • Using the verses as prayers of gratitude in the morning or at night together as a family. For example with “Morning by morning new mercies I see”, We FOCUSED ON THE GRACE AND MERCY OF GOD even over the very breath that we breathe even morning. Two easy gratitude questions for kids, from the very first verse are    ” I wonder what new mercies a waiting for you today?” Perfect for morning wake up call! Or ” What new mercies did you see today?” Perfect for bedtime.

I find myself seeing so many ways that we are living out new mercies and displays of God’s faithfulness in our lives. It is a privilege to see them and to count them. I think it blesses our Father’s heart.

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