Real

This is real –

Our adventure thus far has just been so beautiful.  Every moment so miraculous, every detail so carefully worked out, every moment we have spent in prayer and worship so uplifting and encouraging and faith building.  And in between these precious moments – life happens.
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The Answer

Speak, even if your voice is trembling

Please, you’ve been quiet for so long

Believe, it’ll be worth the risk you’re taking

You’re afraid, but you can hear adventure calling

There’s a rush of adrenaline to your bones

What you make of this moment changes everything
– Amanda Cook (The Voyage)

I am so in love with these words at the moment – I listen to them many times a day.  The first time I heard this song, the lyrics washed over my soul as if the Lord was singing right into my heart, and it still leaves me breathless.  What you make of this moment changes EVERYTHING.

This moment seems huge to us.  The moment when you pack up your life as you know it, and answer the call into the unknown.

Well, maybe that is a little dramatic – Continue Reading

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A Light and a Lighthouse

Meet Anneline, a light in a dark place, a refuge in the spirit to many who feel defeated, a beacon of hope to those who have none and a gentle whisper of healing to the brokenhearted.

Earlier this year we got a group of people together and had a prophetic worship declaration in Bloekombos, a township on the outskirts of the Northern Suburbs of Cape Town.  We arrived at the church building around 9am on Thursday morning, unloaded our instruments and children, and started worshiping.  It was easy to focus on Jesus, because there was no one else there. Literally – there was no one in the building, except for the 6 people from our team, and my two kids.  We had a fantastic time.  God poured out His vision for the area, He flooded us with prophetic songs and spiritual strategy for the mission He had set out for us.  About three hours into our meeting I opened my eyes and noticed this lady sitting to the one side of the hall.  She was praying, pouring out her heart before her Father.  She was fixed on intentionally worshiping her Saviour, and it was clear to see for all who were there.  We ended the morning session by praying for her and hearing a bit of her testimony.  The Lord healed her back right then and there and His joy in her heart was so tangible and undeniable.  We also heard why she only arrived towards the end of the meeting and not at 9am as she had planned…  There was a rainstorm the night before – a beautiful thing about the Cape winters.  It was beautiful to me, because I lay in bed that night listening to the sound of the rushing water and strong winds.  I loved it!  The smell, the ice cold in the air, the warmth of the sheets and fluffy pillows and feather duvet around me.  This lady had a very different perspective.  You see, her little wooden house wasn’t waterproof.  In fact, the wood was so damaged that she had to prop up her roof with a loose pole standing in the middle of her kitchen, just to keep the roof from collapsing in on her.  But this night specifically, Anneline and her three kids were not able to sleep, because they had to clear out the water that had leaked in by using buckets and bowls and cups.  Everything was wet.  All their clothes, their beds, their blankets, everything.  That’s why she was late.  That’s why her three children were not able to attend school that morning – because they were up all hours of the night, dishing out the rain water that I so enjoyed listening to.

My mind was blown.  Here was this lady, smiling from ear to ear.  She had so much JOY.  She was jumping and laughing and dancing because God just healed her back, she was apologizing for being so late, she was testifying of Gods goodness and faithfulness, and then – so by the way – as an afterthought she mentioned that her house was flooded.  But she was our guide in the township as we went on our mission there, and she was the brightest light of us all.  All day everyday while this declaration was running, she was involved and THERE.  And smiling.  And testifying.  And spreading joy and love and peace and goodness and Jesus.

Fast forward a couple of months – We really wanted to help her out and fix up this house that was giving her problems.  So Brown eyes and a friend of ours went to her house to go and check it out.  It became quite clear that a quick fix would not be a very effective solution, as the damage was so extensive and even if we did our best to repair the issues that were most important at that time, there would most certainly be new important issues soon after.  We got a new dream.  We want to hand this light a key to a lighthouse.  We decided to try and give her a brand new home altogether.  The land that her house is built on is rented, and therefore she has permission to put any structure on her piece of rented property.  We got a few quotes for nu-tec wendy houses that would more or less fit in the space she has, and we got so excited about seeing her in a brand new structure.  A structure that doesn’t leak.  A structure that has a roof that stays up by itself.  A structure that she can call home.  We contacted her to arrange a time to come and measure her little property, just to make sure we don’t ask for quotes for structures that won’t fit.  So early one Saturday morning, Brown eyes and I packed our kids in the car and off we went to measure Anneline’s house.

We stopped across the tiny little street, and made our way through the maze of small houses and young children to where we know Anneline’s house is… only, there was nothing.

Just before 6 am that morning, Anneline awoke to a smoke filled house, and the cries of her children, the sound of her son trying to kick open the door of their house that was engulfed by flames.  She managed to get her youngest little girl through the window, and her son broke the door open just in time and they were all able to escape with just a few minor burn wounds.  No one knows what happened.  No one saw what happened.  And no one can give any explanation.  But suddenly, there was no house to measure.  There was nothing. 

Anneline’s friend searching through what was left of the purse they found among the rubble

We spent a couple of hours there that morning, and we were blown away by a million small mercies.  Mercies like the man a few houses away, that started cleaning the site as soon as it had cooled down enough to touch, and he worked all day, mostly by himself to clear the mess.

When we returned late afternoon with food and clothes and blankets, the property was clear and neat and COMPLETELY cleaned out – JUST because of this man’s diligence and hard work. 
Small mercies like this light who invited us into her neighbors house (since she didn’t have one), and who through all of the trauma kept a magnificent smile on her face and peace in her heart and kindness in her words.  People from all over the neighborhood came and went that morning – they all came to encourage her, and they all left with a smile on their face and a heart full of joy because of her.

A few weeks ago we got a couple of pictures from Anneline.  Pictures of her current house, the one she built out of corrugated iron.  The tiny little 1 room house that she shares with her three children.  And it has her personality written all over it – she immediately made a little flower bed around the house, to spread the joy and love and content in her heart with those around her.

At the moment this house is a roof over her head.  But it still leaks.  It is tiny.  Just because they all fit in doesn’t mean it is big enough for them.  And it is still on our hearts to provide her with a new structure that is bigger, safer, waterproof and fire resistant.  We have decided to spread the love, and spread the story of this amazing and inspiring lady, and pray that people will team up with us to provide the funds or donations to make this dream a reality.  If you feel led to contribute in any way, please contact us at pocketsofbeautyblog@gmail.com, or leave a comment below with your contact details and we will contact you.  Also please share this post far and wide, and let’s get as many people supporting the cause as possible.  I will continue to update on the process as we go along, so please follow the blog to ensure that you get the updates as they happen.  And please stand with us, financially and in prayer to care for this woman who always puts others needs ahead of her own.  I strongly feel that enabling her will certainly not stop with her, but have a ripple effect on her entire community.  Because that is who she is.  That is the heart and character of the God she serves.  Help us to present her with a pocket of beauty.

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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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A warrior and a song

My very first blog post – How exciting! I can think of so many places to start, and yet the words don’t come quite as easy as I would like them to.  For years I have been wanting to write about the two most thrilling moments in our lives up to this point – the moments our children were born.

I will never forget the month we decided that we were “ready” to have a baby – Hahaha… yip, we were “ready”.  So out the door went all the contraception.  After all, it takes most couples an average of 6 months to get pregnant, right? And that gives us time to sort out all the itty bitty details to prepare for parenthood…right? I just can’t help but smile as I am typing this.  How young and innocent we were.  So imagine our surprise when 3 weeks later I started vomiting, not being able to keep my eyes open during the day and only capable to stomach fruit salad.  We went out and bought the test but kept it for the next morning.  At 4am I was woken by what seemed to me like a torchlight piercing through the haze of dreams of little babies everywhere.  It wasn’t a torchlight.  It was the Morningstar.  I had left our curtain open before we went to bed that night, for some fresh air.  And when I saw that star, I KNEW.

Fast forward 9 months Continue Reading

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