We thought we’d move in straight away, and of course, we didn’t. It was a long, zig-zaggedy line of viewed flats and raised hopes, and then frustration and more nomadic living. Maneneberg was not available for us. We spent the winter, spring and summer in Cape Town moving from place to place, and though I thrashed against Him in the beginning, I began to exhale and let go. I noticed the pool, the garden, the beach – all gifts. I fell pregnant for the third time and it was so right that that time was one of provision, beauty and rest. I was thankful.
In the midst of it all, we viewed a house, many months ago. It was the only one available in the little pocket of Manenberg we searched in, at the bottom of the street. We packed our sleepy girls in the car with peanut butter sandwiches and drove over as night fell, excited to view it. And though it was spacious and lovely, we both talked on the way home and felt set – it was not for us. It was too big for what we needed. It was near a street where gang shooting happened. It was near a busy walkway and a junction and lots of flats. It was not enough of the fixer-upper. we’d dreamed of. It wasn’t for us.
But at this point I hadn’t exhaled and let go of the process. I was frustrated we hadn’t found a home yet. So I prayed, endlessly hammering on God’s heart with my own discomfort – not at ease in the unknown, not at all. When? When? And I felt Him give me a date. Septmber 14th. I wasn’t sure if I had heard Him right, but I tentatively wrapped my heart around that date and nurtured it in hope.
We stayed with our friends in Hermanus. A beautiful stay, drinking tea from a Thermos on stunning grey beaches while our baby girls sifted sand through their fingers, sharing life and our thoughts. While we stayed there, September 14thcame around. I checked the internet throughout the day for a new house to come on the market. Evening fell. Nothing.
But that night our friend Johan felt burdened to pray with Nick for our housing situation. I left them to it and went to bed, uncurling my grip on that date, uncurling my grip on the whole process.
The next day we drove the long empty Cape Town roads back to our rental flat. Willow fell asleep, Lily was quiet. We talked. And it was then Nick told me as he was praying with Johan, he had felt God speaking to him. Telling him we should buy that house we had seen a few weeks ago. The one we had decided for so many reasons wasn’t right. And though I had questions, I also smiled. When they had prayed together, it had been September the 14th.
God must have seen my questions still remained, because He had to tell me himself. A few days afterwards, we were worshipping together as a family. (This often means Nick and I are singing with our eyes squeezed shut, sometimes teeth clenched, and the girls are pulling our hair, the guitar strings, the curtains. But every so often we all sing and it is verysweet.) And I have never felt quite what I felt during that time. This heaviness fell on my back. I felt pushed to floor. I couldn’t move. Take your tribe and move to that house, I felt Him say. I was slightly afraid, because I felt totally immobile. I could feel Lily prodding my face but I couldn’t get up. It was heavy and beautiful. After what felt like a few minutes, I was released. Weak, I found my way to the kitchen and ate four slices of toast.
We bought the house.
We moved in two months ago, and decided we would live in the house whilst renovating. That was a challenging decision. Everything was instantly covered in the dust and dirt. The kitchen and bathroom because empty shells of concrete. The kids ate endless bowls of Weetabix on a soggy cardboard box and I would sit on the floor next to them holding my 7-month belly. The kids and Nick got a nasty flu with a stomach bug and there was nowhere for anyone to go. I cried by my bedside and wondered if I’d bitten off more than I could swallow. But sometimes we need to struggle and kick and thrash against difficulty in our calling, sometimes it looks like labour. Sweat and salt tears and clenched teeth. And then life at the otherside, beautiful, sweet, peace-soaked life. And eight weeks on, our house is almost done. The rain is pouring down outside, our house is bathed in lamplight at 4 o’clock. The girls are covered in felt-tip pen, I am wearing the comfiest clothes I own. A white moses basket stands by my bed ready, the tea is made.
We are in.
So what next? Sometimes people ask us what we are going to do here, and I am asking myself that question every day. Probably a little too much. I know He speaks to me about the fire of intimacy, and I know He speaks to me about becoming smaller so my heart can grow bigger. I know my little ones are central to my life’s calling. I know that between us we have little ideas. Seeds that might start to shoot, tiny green beads of life stretching out of the black dirt of our days. It feels slow and good. Sometimes frustratingly slow for my frame, which is always ready to run. But I choose to walk, walking around with my eyes open and ears open. We play at the play park and buy milk at the shop, we walk open. I walk slow now I am nearly 8 months pregnant and I think He calls my heart to match the pace.