Taking the plunge

And so the journey continues…

I have decided to start a new blog. Whether I will be able to carve out much time to write in my super busy schedule, is doubtful, but I have been yearning to write again. I think I could do with an outlet, and well, I suppose I just like to write. Period.

It became difficult to write here, because this blog had quite understandably evolved into a blog about Jenna (and I was happy for it to be so) – and I reached a point where I didn’t know how to write just a normal, everyday blog anymore.

I’m starting fresh. If you want to follow the journey, you can find me at www.umoyeni.wordpress.com

Umoyeni is a Zulu word that means – place where the Spirit is. I don’t claim to have any grand delusions about my new blog being full of the Spirit of God, but I do hope he will smile on it. 🙂

I love the Zulu language, don’t you? Umoyeni. It just rolls off the tongue.

Before I go… THANK you, all of you, who followed this blog, who shared Jenna’s story with me, who encouraged me so with your sweet comments. You blessed me more than you will ever know.

Home Alone

Home Alone. Yes, for once, I have the whole house to myself. Two of the boys are at a sleepover birthday party, the oldest teenager is on a spiritual retreat, the hubby will leave work soon to go to church.  I am skipping church tonight. I realized earlier this afternoon that I NEED some time out, some time alone. The only times when I am on my own is when I am out running errands.  I want to be alone in my own space. I am craving the solitude and the absence of any demands placed on me.

I came up here to the computer to play a teaching tape, or some music on my iTunes while I clean.  Yes, this is what I want to do with my alone time. I want to clean my house without being distracted by the thousand sundry needs of the little people who live here. Or without dealing with the little-people-induced messes that spring up like magic to confound me as soon as I feel like I am making progress in my cleaning.

So, here I sit, spending precious time blogging instead of doing a half-cleaning, half-dancing stunt through my house to the sounds of Selah. I opened my Google Reader page – just to “check something quick”, (should’ve known better) and got sideswiped by a blog that was so real that it cut me to the core.  I realized something. I have spent the last year being entertained and lulled by the superficiality of Facebook. I like how Facebook keeps me in the know, and satisfies that thing in me that is curious to learn what other people are up to.  (Especially my middle and high school students, they are a trip!) But very rarely, in the Facebook world, do you encounter the kind of gut-wrenching, eye-opening, epiphany-creating exchange of thoughts that you do in the blogging world.  And I realized that I miss it. I don’t have much time for blogging, and I can’t spend much time reading other blogs, but I do miss pouring out my heart and being inspired by the hearts of kindred souls.

So there. I don’t want to write any more just now, even though I feel that I have a lot to say. My house desperately needs me, people. But I want to write more.

I’ll be back.


Yes, I am still here. Still kicking. Dana and Cynthia, your last two comments made me laugh. I know I have been terribly slack and I do deserve to be fired from my blog.  🙂 So…where does one begin after such a long absence? I suppose I can’t recap and fill in all those missing months but I can start with today.

Ahhh…today. Today was a crazy, up-and-down, emotional, busy day. First of all, I am hormonal.  That in itself should tell you a lot. Secondly, it is the second week of school and I have forgotten what a time-consuming, draining, demanding job this is. If you want to do it well, that is. And I want to accomplish so much this year.  I am already feeling somewhat stressed and overwhelmed.

Thirdly,  I have been plagued by the same weariness that has dogged me this year, spiritually speaking. (Which probably accounts a bit for the few-and-far-between blog entries. My words tend to dry up when I go through a tough time.) Oh, I have felt the presence of Jesus, and I have seen precious truths in his word, but that fresh “first-love” thing where Jesus was the adoring focus of my every thought, has faded into something more commonplace and mundane and familiar. I have to guard against “going through the motions”, like that song says. Sometimes I feel old and jaded spiritually. I have seen much, and my innocence has been lost, and it is hard to maintain that child-like wonder and naivety that I once had.

Back to today. Today, in a spurt of energy after being sick for two days, I tried to bring some order into this badly neglected house. I worked hard, y’all, but at the end of the afternoon, it became clear to me that I had hardly made a dent in my list of things that need attention around here. I so wanted to keep my momentum and carry on working, but Friday nights are church nights for us. I called hubby and told him I didn’t want to go to church. I wanted to get things done around here and besides, I am weary. I am weary of being dry and jaded and…weary. I knew I had no choice but to go though, since I have the car and hubby needed me to get him from work and take him to church.

We sang this song during worship: “You stretch your arms out wide, I lift my hands up high, to my Saviour…”, when Jesus met me.  I took the words to heart and realized again that his arms are always outstretched to meet me. And all I need to do is reach mine up, like my little girly used to do, and let him pull me into his embrace, where all struggle and strife ceases.  As I worshipped, Jesus gently chided me for spouting off fancy words about his goodness and his mercy and his heart that overflows with a desire to redeem us to the uttermost, and yet not believing them for my own life. (I have started writing my book, guess what the first chapter is about?)

He actually asked me: “Why all the angst? Am I your Saviour or not? Do you believe my good intentions for you or not? If you do, why not lift your arms to me and I will pick you up and carry you. Chill out a bit.” And he invited me to dance with him. So I stepped away from my microphone and got off the stage and danced with my God.

His sweet presence hasn’t left me. He sat next to me as I listened to my pastor preach, he is with me now as I type this.

I am tired of religion. I am tired of going through the motions. I am tired of trying and failing and seeing my flesh prevail too many times and of beating myself up for it.

I will never be tired of being with my Jesus, and of baring my soul before him. He is the sweetest person I know. He is life, and in his presence there is joy forevermore.

Spotted with pride.

The youngest boy related a conversation to me this morning that transpired between himself and his thirteen year old brother. It made me smile.

The thirteen year old has been in awe of a zit on his nose that popped up some time this week. The youngest, naturally, has been teasing him about it mercilessly.

“You’re just jealous” replied his older brother.

“Uhhh…why would I be jealous of a zit?”  Came the incredulous reply.

“Because it means I am becoming a man”, insisted the young boy man smugly.



I should be in bed. It’s late and I need my beauty sleep. You can bank on that. 😉

So, this will be short.

I am simply grateful tonight. I want to celebrate this gorgeously balmy spring weather, which sings out a resurrection song. It seems no small co-incidence that Easter and April happen around the same time. (In the Northern hemisphere at least). The new life budding and sprouting in the trees and expressed in the humble praise songs of the birds, is just the reflection of a deeper stirring I feel inside me.

I am grateful that our personal winter seasons don’t last forever. At some point, the cold and barrenness make us cry out to God, and true to form, he comes. He never fails to turn up when we ask him to, pouring his life-giving rain on our hearts and making everything new.

This is where I am tonight. I spent a good amount of time in his presence at church this evening, and have walked away from the experience with new hope. With a new sense of his beauty, his glory, his love.

I surrendered Jenna to him again. I told him it’s OK. I am OK with her being with him. My heart is still broken, but at moments like these, all I know is the most indescribable peace. It truly defies words.

Like the delicate spring blossoms on the trees outside, that remind me so much of my delicate, pink-loving little girl, I too feel like there is a new life pulsing through me. One that promises great things, and fruit to follow.

Redemption story

I can still remember that day so clearly. We had only been dating for about 4 weeks, and hubby and his family had taken me with them on a vacation to the rustic African bush. Hubby had brought his guitar, and in the evenings he would play and sing worship songs around the camp fire. At some point during the vacation he turned to me and asked me if I thought he had a good singing voice.

“Um, not really…” I replied.

I can hear all five of my regular readers gasping in shock as they read this. What? How could I have been so…thoughtless? Cruel, even?

I can’t explain that one, folks. I was young. Opinionated. A musical snob. Oh, how I learned to eat those words. They were unfair, and untrue. If I could have had the moment over again, I would have told him that he has a great tone, a uniquely beautiful voice, but that he needed some voice training to smooth out some issues.

Anyhow. Twenty years of silence followed. TWENTY years, people. Not a song in the shower, not a peep anywhere. The guitar collected dust in its case, only getting pulled out occasionally and strummed halfheartedly.

Until recently.

It was a slow awakening. Our pastor encourages all of us who feel a call to go into the ministry to learn how to lead worship. Even without a natural talent, the ability to lead worship is a necessary skill when you want to bring people into the presence of God. So, hubby and I have been on the worship team for a number of years. The guitar got dusted off and played again regularly.

It was always a sticky point though, and one that created some friction – which one of us was going to lead worship? Hubby had the desire to do it, but I was the one who could hear a piece of music once and then tell you how it ought to be played afterwards. I would frustrate the heebie-jeebies out of the poor hubby man. He would play something and I would say: “It’s not right”. And yeah, sometimes I was still nit-picking, and a bit better-than-thou-ish. You’d have thought I had learned my lesson twenty years ago. Sigh.

Anyhow. About a year and a half ago, something started growing in me. It was the realization that hubby was the one who had the true calling to be a worship leader. It defied logic. After all, I am the “musical one”, right? But I knew, at some point, that he had a true longing to lead people into the presence of God through worship, whereas I simply wanted to express my own worship to God through music. I could do that as a part of a worship team, without being a worship leader. In fact, the more I thought about it, the less I wanted any part of leading worship.

So, I stepped back.

I told the hubby that he had to go for it. The time was right. I could feel it, like an unborn baby that needed to be pushed out into the world. Hubby was ready to get his worship leading wings, and fly.

The  man had started to sing a bit at home at this point, but he was still far from comfortable about sticking his neck out and singing in public.  Then I was asked to do a song at church. Nothing seemed to feel right, except a song that hubby and I had been practising at home. It took some cajoling, but eventually we performed the duet together.

Oh people.

It was so perfect. People raised their arms and worshipped, others wept, when we stepped off that stage there was a tangible anointing in the room. Who would have thought that God would take two such imperfect vessels and use them in spite of their shortcomings?  

It is with such a grateful heart that I write this. Since that fateful duet in the church a few months ago, hubby has led worship about 5 or 6 times. Each time he grows in confidence and ability. It is precious to see him come out of his shell, to see him regaining the ground that satan had stolen from him through my hasty words so long ago. It’s the perfect redemption story.

What I love most about the whole thing, is that I have now found something I have yearned for all my life – someone to harmonize with. I love singing harmonies to songs, and everyone who listens to hubby and I singing together will tell you, our voices match each other perfectly.

For the longest time, I didn’t know it, but now I rejoice in it:

We were made to sing together.


Somebody told me today that I have words inside me that are a blessing, that are uniquely Sumi, and that the world needs to hear.

God knows, I have been throwing up walls around myself and my heart for the past few months. In the process, my words got stifled.

It was soooooo refreshing to sit over lunch and let those words spill out. To tear down the walls and bare my heart and get that kind of clarity that only comes when you are in honest fellowship with a non-judgmental friend. Oh, how we as the body of Christ need each other. I’ve been trying to make it on my own but there is something so empowering in a journey shared. I think it has something to do with our friends being the hands and face and feet of Jesus to us, where we can see the heart of God towards us as it is reflected in the sweet face of a friend.

I have not found myself in a good place lately. My heart has been hard, cynical, bitter. I acknowledged to myself yesterday that yes, I was angry at God. Angry because I am missing Jenna and I am surrounded by so many pregnant mothers – all of whom are having little girls.  Angry because I don’t see myself changing like I hoped I would. I am still the same old Sumi, plodding along the same old paths.

I am bone weary of the same old stale patterns in my life, and I am longing for a deluge of fresh, life giving rain to come and wash me clean and refresh this (c)old heart.

I had a moment today where I told God that I didn’t want to become a bitter and cynical old woman. I prayed a bit and opened my bible – and he met me. What a faithful God.

I was reminded again that it is in beholding his face, and seeing his preciously tender heart towards me, that I am changed. I am amazed that this mighty God of the universe stoops down in kindness – and LOVES me, pitiful thing that I am, and makes me his treasure.  Who can help but adore a God like that?

My friend was right. I need to have an outlet. I need to write (or talk someone’s ear off). She said I must make time for it, that my words are a gift.

I might begin writing my book. I might blog more. Either way, I will be sharing my heart. And I am happy at the thought.

What I might be doing if I had the time…

I might write my book. 🙂

I might go visit my Sarah friend and take her to go and sit at Jenna’s grave for a while. (It’s been too long.)

I might take some piano lessons.

I might take some friends bra shopping. I read this website and now I am mildly obsessed about helping all the sad women in the world who do not wear the right size bra. 🙂 I am tickled pink because I discovered a local department store that actually sells the imported British bras that come in my size (which isn’t manufactured in the US). I had previously only been able to obtain them at a fair price through UK Ebay.

I might tackle the scary place that is my boys’ bedroom, and throw away tons of useless, broken, unplayed with toys.

I might revamp our sunroom. (It is scarier than the boys’ room.)

I might adopt a little Haitian orphan girl. There are still so many little girly things in this house.

I DID manage to find time to do this over the Christmas break:

A custom made lampshade for my Mother in Law, featuring pictures of her 6 grandkids.

The base is slightly broken so the lampshade doesn’t sit straight. I only used it for the purpose of taking the picture.

I also got into a knitting craze and knit several scarves for friends. I am also teaching my bible girls to teach at school. It is turning out to be a wonderful, special bonding time for all of us. (I have even had some 8th grade boys begging me to teach them to knit.) Who knew that teaching a bunch of teens to knit could lead to so much fellowship and fun?

A scarf I knit with sundry left over balls of yarn:

The strips of green fun fur remind me of a fuzzy worm. 🙂

Of course if money wasn’t an option, my current mood would take me to South Africa for a visit to all my peeps there. I would sneak in a performance of the Soweto Gospel Choir and grab me some real African harmonies while I was there. My African people can sing!

What would you do if money and time wasn’t a consideration?

Stocking s(t)uffer

To Jenna…

So, Christmas is officially over and I haven’t written you a note to stuff into your stocking yet. Yes, I had a run-around day on Christmas eve. Yes, I fell into bed, exhausted, at 4am. It’s been a happy, blessed, busy time. And you were missed, sweetie pie.

But something in me balked at sitting down and writing you that note. Last year I was driven to do it. This year, I just didn’t want to be reminded that it is all I have to give you this Christmas, and many more to follow.

I don’t think my house has ever looked as good, or smelled as lovely as it does this year. The Christmas tree is gorgeous. The boys and I lovingly decorated it with the same ornaments that you helped me hang so industriously on your last Christmas with us. I remember your pudgy toddler hands, and your intense concentration as you hung them precariously low, all in one spot at your own eye level. I had to space them out a bit later on. 🙂

The tree now sports some ornaments you never knew – little mementoes of you, sent in by friends. Tom, the cat. Ballet Slippers. A handmade ornament with a robin on it. A treasured dragonfly embossed ornament that came from a mommy whose little girl left her in much the same way you left us. I pointed them all out to granny and she stood before that beautiful, fragrant tree with tears in her eyes. You still light up our world, muffiny.

I found something at Walgreens and had to buy it. It is not the prettiest ornament, but its words grabbed me. It says: A daughter is yesterday’s dream, today’s delight, and tomorrow’s promise.  

It is the promise part I like. Somewhere in my tomorrows, you are waiting. The promise is sure. The same Jesus whose light shines so brightly in all my darkness, whose light is everywhere this Christmas season, adorning houses and making this christmas tree sparkle, is keeping you safe with him until that day. There is hope, and there is plenteous redemption. (Psalm130)

But sometimes that wait seems so long and notes like these are just a bummer to write.

Still, I have decided to stuff a little love letter to you in your stocking every year, and I like to think that one day, years from now, perhaps you and I can sit down and read them together.

Words elude me tonight, they have been doing it a lot lately.  I’d love to write you something eloquent and poetic. But all I can say to you my little precious girly, is that I miss you, I love you, and you will always be in my heart.

Until that day,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Your mommy.

Out of the cocoon

I don’t know how to start my blog posts anymore! I’ve been absent so long, it feels like I need to explain, or play catch up or something.

I really should write more, because there are moments in my day that I want to capture, that will be forgotten if I don’t write them down. I always wish I had written about Jenna more, recorded her sweet sayings and her milestones. AH well…

The boys provide lots of amusement around here. My middle son learned that he could burp on demand recently. So yesterday, while we were alone at church, waiting for hubby to print out the song sheets for the worship service (he led worship last night), the boys enjoyed hearing themselves sing over the microphones. Middle son, of course, had to try out his burping technique – and belched out a hillarious rendition of “Jesus loves me.”

I attempted some beat boxing. I had this misguided impression that I would actually be quite good at it. Alas, it was not the case. I sounded scary.

Teaching has been hard this year – or at least, harder than it seemed last year. I think there are many factors that play into that. I have added an extra (high-maintenance) class, my son is in three of my classes and it definitely affects the classroom dynamic, plus I do not have the luxury of having a weekly cleaning lady this year. (Last year a sweet friend paid for me to have one.) On Thursdays and Fridays the boys are home and supposed to do their home school work, but they manage to drag it out over the whole weekend. All of the above make me feel like I am not making ends meet, time wise.

Today, the boys and the hubby were out for a good chunk of time to get haircuts, and I could clean/de-clutter to my heart’s content, whilst playing my music as loud as I wanted. It was bliss. But I am disappointed by how much I actually got done, and how much work this house still needs. It seems an impossibility to get this place in pristine order. (Nevermind keeping it that way.)

I have been quite emotional lately and missing Jenna acutely. I was trying to figure out why when I realised: there doesn’t have to be a reason why. I don’t always need to explain why I am missing her more at some times than at other times. The fact that Jenna isn’t here with us is reason enough for any missing that I feel. That I can carry on living and laughing and loving life at other times is pure grace.

I was telling a friend at church (who is grieving the loss of her younger sister and her bestest friend) that now, 21 months later, it often feels MORE painful, and the realization that Jenna was here once and now she is gone sometimes hits me like a gut punch. It seemed at first, that Jenna was all I could think about, and I was constantly clinging to God and trying to make sense of what had happened. I was wrapped in a cocoon of grace then and I was full of hope that everything would eventually work out beautifully, to the glory of God. Now there are so many other things that crowd in, that sometimes thoughts of Jenna catch me unprepared, outside of that safe place that I was wrapped in at first. Sometimes those thoughts take my breath away.

My friend responded and compared this new place that I am in, to a cocoon unraveling. We can’t stay wrapped up in our protective cocoons forever, at some point the covers need to be stripped away so that Jesus can continue to do a fresh work in our hearts. Hopefully when I finally come out of that cocoon it will be as a butterfly and not some ugly moth. LOL.

I am off now, to go and take a long, hot, soak in the bath. I’ve given up on cleaning the house for the time being. Part of me wishes that I could just skip church tomorrow and get things done around here for a change! I know that I never regret going to church though, it is always refreshing to worship God with my church family.

Wouldn’t a three day weekend be nice?