The Call

When Brown eyes and I got married, we had big plans – We were going to live in beautiful Oxford (UK) where we got married, I was going to be a successful child psychologist, he was going to be a successful financial trader, we were going to buy one of those dreamy Oxford homes, we were going to have 4 kids to fill that big dreamy house and of course, we were going to get a puppy.

I’m not exactly sure where reality kicked in – but somewhere in the next few months we started realizing that things probably weren’t going to be that way.  We were in the UK on working holiday visas, our 2 years there were almost up, and I was missing the South African fields and mountains and people and food and languages and my family.  We needed a new dream.  During our time as university students that dream started to shape and finally became a reality when we were expecting our dearest little warrior and desperately needed a place to call home (and an income to go with it).  So we made the huge leap and moved to our dream city – Cape Town.

For the first (at least) 3 years of living here, I cried every time I saw Table Mountain.  I cried because it was the most beautiful sight, and I got to see it in real life, as often as I wanted.  This brand new place became our home.  We settled in with a church and friends who became our family, the fynbos smell became the smell of home, we grew familiar with the Sunday-morning-newspaper-delivery-guy who we could hear coming down the street as he called out the name of the paper he was selling, we had two babies here, we lost 4 babies here, we rooted our lives here as we started dreaming all over again.  We picked our favourite shops for our routine grocery shopping, we picked our favourite roads to get to those shops, we picked our favourite mulberry trees to steal pick leaves from during silkworm season, we had a family doctor where we have taken our kids since birth, we got a family membership at the aquarium and went there every other weekend, we knew what to do and where to go for whichever mood we were in, and the Cape knew how to soothe our souls and fill our hearts.  And my message to Brown eyes was loud and clear – We will never move.  We will raise our kids here, their preschool friends will be the ones they grow up with, we will eventually buy a house somewhere in one of the suburbs that have older houses with wooden floors and big rooms (which has become a challenge because I didn’t end up being a successful child psychologist and he didn’t end up being a successful financial trader) and we will live in that house and raise our future puppy and silkworms there.  And if people ever asked IF we would ever move anywhere else, our answer was always the same: “We will move IF the Lord tells us to move”.  And we meant it – mostly because our hearts really seek Him in whatever we do, and secondly because I didn’t really think He would ever tell us to, after all, He is the one who prepared this place for us, He called us here and we have seen Him move in and through our lives countless times, and we LOVED it. Here.

Earlier this year, while I was praying one morning, a gentle whisper blew through my soul – “Is this it?”.  I didn’t understand the question?  Doesn’t that question normally come from us as a people, and isn’t it normally aimed at God, especially when we get bored or frustrated with our lives and we really want to know if this is all there is?  So having the question aimed at me felt quite bizarre, but I was intrigued.  It soon started sinking in to heart – is this it?  Is this what I limit God to?  Is this how I will always do things? Just because I’ve always done them this way…
Will I always wake up and have coffee, just because that’s how it’s been?  Will I always fold my laundry a certain way?  Will I always pray a certain way, and expect God to answer in a certain way?  Is this it?  So the next morning I set out to make changes, small changes, but changes none the less.  Like having tea instead of coffee when I wake up.  And repacking and switching around everything in my kitchen cupboards.  And driving different roads to the ones I’m used to.  And trying a different store.  And parking on the other side of the library parking lot.  I just had such a desire to do things differently!  And I did.

One thing I didn’t mention at the beginning of my story, is how Brown eyes started saying things early in the year like “Imagine the Lord sends us somewhere, like another country!” to which I OBVIOUSLY responded “Ha.Ha.Ha”.  And I think Brown eyes and God had a bit of a thing going there that I wasn’t aware of, because the next few months became interesting.  We both became aware of a change happening within us.  Something.  I don’t have the words to even try and explain what it was, I don’t even think I know.  Let’s call it preparation.  Small changes turned into bigger changes, turned into bigger changes.  Mostly inward changes, the deep kind that can’t pin point once it’s happened, but you know it happened.  The Lord started calling us, gently.  To open our hearts to a new season.  To walk on the water.  To move.

He clearly gave us direction, He gave us purpose, He gave us peace, and he gave us the blessing of those around us, those that have been so weaved into our hearts that I still find it difficult to imagine not being in their homes on a regular basis, or in church with them on a Sunday, or in the parks and mountains and on the beaches that surround us.  But He has also tied our hearts to His call.

Everything in me wants to stay – I love this city.  I love these people.  I love the smell.  I love the sunset.  I love what God has done in us and for us and through us here.  I love Him.  Which is why everything in me wants to go – I Love His voice.  I love how He calls.  I love seeing the mystery unfold.  I love seeing Him make a way where there was no way.  I love Him.  Everything about Him.  And I know He calls us for a reason.  A very specific purpose.  A time such as this.

So we are in the process of sharing the news with those around us.  Sorting out the logistics that unavoidably come with such a big move.  And dealing with the emotions that make themselves known from both sides of the spectrum.  I will wake up some mornings with such huge excitement that I cannot imagine having to wait to start packing, and by lunch time I would have spent an hour half an hour crying with my angel neighbour on our front step about leaving and I would have had a high again – at least once.  And yes, I have a million questions.  I wonder about everything all the time – How will the trip go?  How will the kids adapt?  How will the cat adapt?  Will I find mulberry trees?  How will my kids friends take the news?  How will it feel to go to our library for the last time?  How will it feel to drive through our mountains for the last time, and to look at Table mountain in the rear-view mirror and know I won’t see her tomorrow? And then my heart is lightened with the questions that await me.  How will we see God move in our new city?  Where will we go on our first hike?  How will our first new sunrise feel?  Who will God introduce us to, that will become our family?  What will become our favourite things to do, and places to go?  What will make me cry, because it is the most beautiful sight, and I get to see it in real life, as often as I want?

This adventure is a big step for us.  Our hearts and deeds and children and money and thoughts and plans and dreams are invested in this.

Do I ever experience doubt? Yip…

Do I ever feel like I might want to hide in the cupboard for a while?  Yip…

But every time I hide my face in my hands and ask the hard questions, I end up in the same place.
I end up standing with one foot in the boat, and one foot on the raging sea, and my King is holding His hand out to me, never taking His eyes off mine.  He is calling.  And this ocean around me doesn’t matter anymore – because I see Him.  The most valuable, immeasurable, unchanging, all-consuming pocket of magnificent beauty.

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A little yeast

Brown eyes and I have both been feeling that we needed start facing our fear of getting up earlier.  Goodness, after a night of playing musical beds and getting up for bottles and teething babies and nappy changes and bad dreams and toilet runs, the LAST thing you FEEL like doing is getting up earlier than required.  But the way our daily schedule runs at the moment, neither of us are capable of setting aside time somewhere else in the day to have some QUIET, alone time with the Lord.  And my desire for some of that intimate quiet time has grown so much lately, that I simply HAD to make a change.

So we started getting up earlier.  We set our alarms for an hour earlier, with a few extra alarms for 10 minutes later JUST in case.  The following morning with the first alarm, I actually GOT UP (yay me!), made coffee, and spent the next hour just praying and letting the Word wash over me.  Something in me changed, and every day just felt so much lighter, more joyful, more focused since we made this change.  The wonderful thing is that we got used to this routine of ours, and we love it still!  But life happens, and for an entire week our kids started getting up an hour earlier as well.  I was thrown out of my routine and I suffered the consequence of not being adaptable to these type of changes.

We are going through a big life change at the moment – moving to another city (You can read about that here: The Call).  And the point is that I NEEDED those early mornings.  I needed them to ground me in what I KNOW the Lord is saying to us.  I needed them to keep my thoughts of doubt, and my racing practical mind under control.  I needed them, because they assured me of my Fathers love and security and of His voice and His call.  I needed them.  And suddenly I wasn’t getting them.  This little routine that we weren’t even doing two weeks before, had become such a refuge for me, that not having it anymore was a big deal.  And it showed.

The excitement and joyful expectation about the move shifted and in its place I felt burdened with the logistics.  The scale tipped, and I felt overwhelmed.  Slowly but surely the doubts and worries and concerns started manifesting physically, and by the end of the week I was just drained.  I felt TIRED beyond words.  My muscles were overwhelmingly sore.  I started getting a rash all over my upper body that I couldn’t identify.  And most of all, I just felt down and out.  I lost my perspective – But God didn’t lose His.  You see, He placed this angel in my life – My neighbor.  We have become very close, and she KNOWS me.  So one afternoon this angel walked in and asked me “When did the change come for you? Because all along you have held a good balance”.  It didn’t sink in right away, but the next morning our kids slept their normal sleep hours, and Brown eyes and I made tea and sat in bed with our bibles.  My eye caught Psalm 94:19, and I knew I needed consolation:

 When anxiety was great within me,    your consolation brought me joy.

So I started my search.  My mind went back to the discussion we had at church the day before, on Galatians 5.  And so my fingers quickly found the pages I had read less than 24 hours ago, and as my eyes slowly studied the words, the realization of what I had allowed to happen became clearer and clearer with each word.  It felt to me as if Paul was standing in the room, giving me a pep talk:

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” 10 I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty.

I had fallen into a downward spiral when I started giving in to the battle between spirit and flesh.  My Spirit KNOWS the Lords voice – I KNOW He called us.  I KNOW He will provide.  I KNOW He has prepared a place for us.  I KNOW He is our comfort and security.  I KNOW He has spoken.  And I KNOW He is the beginning and end of all things.
My flesh KNOWS the voice of the world, and wants me to justify this decision according to the laws of the world, which I cannot do.  Because we are not moving for any of the reasons that would normally justify such a big change in the eyes of the world: Bigger salary.  Better job.  Dream city.  Family.  Money.  Money.  Money. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” My role in this moment is to keep my eyes on Jesus.  To keep my ear tuned to His voice.  To keep my heart set on Him.  To entertain only His thoughts for me.  To walk this road ONLY by faith.  That is the call, for me, at this moment.

Brown eyes and I prayed together, we surrendered our hearts and flesh-driven minds.  Once more.  And Grace responded.  We got up, he got ready for work, the kids joined us, we made them breakfast, said our goodbyes and Brown eyes left.  A few minutes later I noticed that my sore muscles were no longer sore.  I no longer felt tired.  I no longer had a headache.  The burden I carried was gone.  I was free.  And I felt it.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

It is so easy to miss a turn, to take your eyes off the track, to fall away from grace.  Today, I choose to live by the Spirit – to see what He sees, to speak His words of life, to soak my soul in this pocket of beauty

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