God’s Grace for Today looked like – a messed up wheel

Hearing my Daddy

Today we decided to take the day “off” and go for a hike in our beautiful drakensberg mountains. It has been years since we went and we wondered how the little guys would possibly manage. Well little Maisy (aged 3.5yrs) walked all 3.5km! So I’d say they all managed pretty well!

As we reached a particularly difficult scramble up hill everyone else had already disappeared out of view and she looked up at me saying, “Mommy it’s too hard, I can’t do it.” Just then Neil’s voice wafted from some where ahead of us….

“Maaaaaisy. ¬†Maaaisy. ¬†Come on ¬†girl.”

She looked at me.  I looked at her.

I asked ” did you hear your daddy’s voice. ¬†Did you hear him calling?”¬†Neither of us knew which direction we were headed but as he called we climbed up toward his voice. ¬†Suddenly it didn’t seem so steep or scary but rather an exciting anticipation of when we’ll find him. ¬†We kept looking till suddenly there he was. ¬†What a rapture of joy as Maisy saw her daddy standing there waiting for her. That last scramble was one of pure delight and love.

Later as we descended upon a steep path I told her to hold my hand and we’d walk this part together. When she asked why I explained that sometimes Jesus will call us and we need to b follow his voice and other times we need to just hold his hand and let him do it together with us.

What a full heart I took home with me. ¬†I had learned so much about¬†my father in heaven as well as being mom. ¬†This Being Mom thing is not just about school and clothes and food and sport. It’s about walking beside our children – training them to hear, see and recognise their heavenly father. And as mom I need to not be their saviour rescuing them from every hardship but rather walk beside… Had I picked her up and carried her on those hard paths neither of us would have seen what God wanted to tell us about him in struggling the difficult moments in life. ¬†Slowly, slowly this mommy is learning what Being Mom is really all about.

Christmas – Our Way

Christmas has always been an interesting time in our home. And in the homeschool circles you come across many families who no longer celebrate this holiday. I have always been so grateful that during our first years of marriage we lived in a town far from family so that we could work through some tough thought processes and decisions. On our return to living amongst the family we had managed to establish our own traditions, beliefs and who we were.

The most obvious of these was Christmas. We came to realise that this season has so many roots and evokes huge emotion within people. We could spend hours discussing the different world views and the pros and cons to various views. Instead I’ll simply share how we as a family spend this special season. We have spent a great deal of time learning about the different Jewish festivals and how these link to Christianity. From this study we have begun to celebrate Hanukkah which celebrates the miracle of light. This we find is an awesome introduction to Christmas as it keeps us focused on Jesus, the Light of the world. The 6 December then finds us celebrating St Nicolas Day. This we found fundamental as all the cousins have father Christmas arrive on Christmas day and whilst we chose to move away from this we found it important to honour them and not teach our children to be filled with pride by saying “we right and they are wrong,” – we simply do things differently. So by us celebrating a ST Nicolas day we could simply explain they celebrate St Nicolas day on Christmas day.

The the decision as to whether we should celebrate Christmas at all… After much deliberation we decided to continue celebrating it, for a number of reasons. Firstly the rest of our family does – many of whom are not saved so we saw this as an excellent chance to witness to them. We found it was an entire month of celebrating our savior and focusing on him. Christ himself recognised and celebrated Hanukkah which was not a God ordained holiday but rather a man made one. Therefore if our hearts are right we too are free to celebrate man made holidays and traditions.

So as a family Christmas is an exciting, much anticipated time of year. It does require much preparation and heart searching but that is what makes this time so special to us all.

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Just Waiting…

Mother with Children [front]

Recently, during worship at church, I wandered to the back with baby on my arm. Soon I noticed one of the twins had followed me. Catching up she complained how sore her tummy was. Knowing there were people all around, I had no medicine or snack to help and it was freezing outside, there was little I could do. Gently reassuring her I explained that if she waited just a little longer I may be able to help her after worship. Nodding she wandered off for a bit then quietly came back and lay on the carpet and curled up on my feet. And there she lay in a little ball and waited.

She still felt uncomfortable and sore but yet she chose to lay down, curled up on my feet. Waiting for me to take control. Waiting for me, in my time, to reach down, pick her up and use my huge “Mommy Power” to make all things right again. And all the while she simply curled up and waited, occasionally looking up from way own there, giving me a huge grin or whispering, “I love you, Mom.”

What a lesson for me today. How often to I beseech my heavenly father and hound Him to answer me here and now. How often do I hammer His chest and yell and cry and try to force his hand to fulfill my ever urgent “NOW.” Yet in Mathew 19:14 Jesus said,¬†‚ÄúLet the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs¬†to such as these.‚Ä̬†Like a little child let me learn today to bring my requests to Him. Then too, like my little daughter, lay at his feet and in expectant, anticipation simply quietly, rest and wait.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:31

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Christmas Hope

Every year, for Christmas  we choose a theme and colour scheme for the season. This year it was Hope with the colours gold and white. What a special and beautiful Christmas it turned out to be.

Throughout December we have spoken about Hope an how we need to have Hope in Jesus alone as it is only through Him that we will have true joy and peace. We decorated the lounge in line with the theme using candles and butterflies. It so beautifully reflected the theme and the message to our children.

On Christmas morning we were unable to attend church so instead I sewed little paper pockets and placed butterflies with Bible verses, and a chocolate, inside each one.

For our Bible time we then read through the verses and stuck them upon a gold cross. This was a very special time and helped us focus upon Jesus and the hope we have in him before we opened our gifts.

Having a theme is such a simple idea and yet it helps keep us focused on a different aspect of God every year and makes each year that little bit extra special.

Here are some of the verses we used:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Titus 3:5-7 He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.

Romans 5:3-5 We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Romans 12:12 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

Psalm 39:7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for?¬†My hope is in you.

Psalm 31:24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

Psalm 147:11 The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought¬†and never fails to bear fruit.”

Lamentations 3:24
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him / hope in him”

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Finding Strength

Mom and daughter reading

As I sit and reflect on the year ahead and what’s in store for us as well as what we walked through in 2011, I can only turn to God for council, strength, wisdom and direction.

Flicking through my Bible my eyes were drawn to Psalm 51. So often God calls me back here and today He has yet another treasure to share with me. “Restore in me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Now I’m sure there are all sorts of theological views and insights into this verse – for me however I simply felt my Father wrap his clock of love and direction upon my shoulders.

My strength for the year ahead does not lie in any workshops, tricks, studies or books instead He whispers that it lies within “the joy of my¬†salvation.” Have I forgotten how much my salvation means to me? Am I spending time thinking on and then living out that joy? Or am I focused on my own needs, wants, insecurities and hangups?

As I swing my focus back to my salvation and what that eternally implies, well – my own qualms regarding the number of dishes I need to wash and unfinished school work fades into but “light and momentary troubles.” 2 Cor 4:17.

Secondly He speaks of “a willing spirit.” How often is my mind geared up for homeschooling, being wife and mother and yet my spirit has been so un-enthused? So often I’m not willing to give my spirit over to what God is calling me to do in the home and rather keep my eyes fixed on the great career, blogs, friends, dishwasher and new car I could have if I just managed to work my time carefully. God however is calling me today to have a willing spirit – willing to have my spirit led by him and to be content and willing to do his will here and now. Which for today involves being available to spend time with my children

So as we are leaping into 2012 I hear my father call – He’s wanting our eyes kept firmly focused upon him and to find our joy and strength in what he’s done for us. Then in response to trust him with our spirits and to be willingly involved where he had placed us – not tugging in our own directions.

This tiny verse has offered me such peace, direction and comfort for 2012 that I hope it does the same for you.

It will be great to know your thoughts on this verse and other ways God has directed your year ahead….

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Christ The King

Every year before Christmas we pray about our Christmas theme.  The one year we had the colours yellow and white for Jesus the light, last year we focused on white for peace and this year God gave us the colours red and gold. So we made red and gold angels, crackers and serviette holders.

The red representing the blood that resulted in the babe born in Bethlehem becoming our eternal king, which was reflected in the gold. Through Bible readings and prayer with the children we realised that a baby born in a foreign land had not significance to us ‚Äď let alone a baby born 2000 years ago having any eternal significance to us. It is purely through this baby‚Äôs life, death, resurrection and kingship that we can remember, rejoice and celebrate this babe‚Äôs birth.

We spent time discussing how we would treat a king. What gifts we would bring and the time we‚Äôd spend trying to see his face. We then looked at what gifts our king would like ‚Äď ‚Äúa broken and contrite heart.‚ÄĚ We also discussed how much time we spend searching Our King‚Äôs face.

Later we spent time asking ourselves what a King would expect from his subjects ‚Äď he‚Äôs want loyalty, respect, trust, love, submission, honesty and such. What attitudes do we bring before our king?

This time has been so special and the children have learned so many valuable life lessons. We have all developed a deeper love for our heavenly king. As we set our table with red and gold, placed the crown on our crown Christmas cake, put up the red and gold balloons and the crown serviette holders we were constantly reminded that the babe’s birth we celebrated is today sitting upon His kingly throne. What a special blessed time we’ve had together.

Hanukkah Celebration

As a family we have been exploring the Hebrew festivals and celebrations. What a blessing and insight this has given us!

This year, for the first time, during our year-end celebrations, we’ve celebrated Hanukkah. This is not a “biblical holiday” – in that God didn’t instruct His people to follow it but¬†it was created by the Jewish people in a time between the¬†testaments. We do therefore see Jesus go up to Jerusalem to celebrate this Jewish Festival of Lights – John 10:22-23.

The story goes that after Alexander the Great died his kingdom was divided and¬†Antiochus Epiphanes took over Jerusalem in 176 BCE Judaism was outlawed and the temple was desecrated. An image of Zeus was erected and a pig was slaughtered on the alter. Any Jew who did not bow down and worship Zeus or continued to practice Judaism was murdered. A small band led by Judas Maccabeus conducted gorilla warfare upon the Greeks until they were able to reclaim the temple. They then spent time restoring the temple and building a new alter. Once everything was ready for the¬†re-dedication¬†of the temple – exactly 1000 years after the first temple was dedicated – it was found that there was not enough oil to light the menorah, which was to burn day and night. There was only enough oil for one day and it would take another eight days to produce more oil. However they lit the menorah with the oil they had and it miraculously stayed burning for the full eight days! Hence the Jews spend this time celebrating the miracle of God’s provision and they rededicated themselves to Him. It is also thought that this festival maybe where Christmas derived it’s date from as the Jews celebrate Hanukkah on¬†25¬†Kislev, and Kislev is the closest month they have to December. Therefore the early Greek or Roman church may have used this date to create their own festival to celebrate the birth of Christ.
I’ve just stumbled across this great review on some books to read to your child during Hanukkah – you’ll find these book for sale in our store.

As Christians however this time has a far deeper significance. Firstly Jesus is the light of our lives, the word is the lamp to our feet and we are the light to the world Рso this celebration reminds us as we rededicate ourselves to the Light that we too are to keep burning for him. Looking at when Jesus and John the baptist were born, it is suggested by some that Jesus, the light of the world, was in fact conceived during the festival of Hanukkah.

As we didn’t have a ¬†menorah to light we’ve created our own one with¬†tea-light¬†candles and a bigger “servant candle.” Before supper each night we light our candles, says the blessings and then read through Psalms 114 -118, which often results in us wanting to sing songs of praise! We then enjoy dinner together – which we are adding a special pudding to every night as a treat. Hanukkah is a family holiday that is celebrated with joy and love. As we have said the blessings –¬†knowing¬†that thousands of people are saying the same blessings at the same time and that in fact thousands of years ago on this day Jesus too said these blessings – we have stood in awe as to how partaking in this festival has deepened our own and our children’s understanding of how Jesus is the light of the world.

Year End Celebrations

 

We love Christmas. It is such a special family time that allows for us to re-look at our  basic believes, celebrate family and helps us train our children in the art of giving.

I still have the desire to do a full-out Christmas of giving to the poor and lonely on Christmas day but with little people this has not yet been a reality. Therefore we spend time focusing on giving to family and close friends. This involves every child making gifts for others.

As a family we’ve decided to¬†separate¬†Christ’s birth and St Nicholas. We therefor celebrate st Nicholas day ¬†– in our own family way – on 6 December. This has been great as St Nicolas was an amazing man and his life teaches our children to give. This sets the tone for our festive season.

This year we added the celebration of Hanukkah which happened  to fall over Christmas and this too has helped us focus on Jesus as the light of our lives.

Finally we celebrate Christmas by making our own Christ centered decorations, we make Christmas crackers, our Christmas cake, cards and gifts. On about the 16th December we go tree hunting and spend an evening putting up our tree Рwhich is a whole adventure in its self. Christmas day then begins with stockings, us going to church, Christmas cake and gift giving and which is then followed a huge family-lunch.

It’s taken us 10 years to formulate what works well for us, how to keep Christ the focus and how to have relevant fun activities running through out this time of year and with that we have created many fun family traditions and memories that will last for ever!

Finding Spring

I’ll never forget spring 2010.

Evey year, as a family, we hold a spring celebration on 1 September. The spring of 2010 posed a huge problem, there were no signs of spring anywhere. Not a flower bloomed and not a new shoot showed. How does one celebrate something that does not exist? Well spring of 2010 found us talking to the tree, telling them it wa time to wake up now and we hung to the promise of what was to come. And oh the rejoicing when spring did find its way into our homes. This year has been entirely different in that our garden had been bursting with colour and life since August and so we felt our spring celebration to be a bit late but we still used the time to thank God for the beauty he chose to surround us with.

These two contrasting springs have spoken to me very deeply as a mother, wife and woman. At times life is hard, it’s dry we always seem to be fighting against the stream and we see no beauty in our daily chores or what we spend our days doing. Sometimes money is tight, relationships are strained, children seem impossible or work is all-consuming. At these times we are hardly likely to see spring bursting around us! I have however learned that at these times we need to look into these dry branches of our existence and whisper hope and expectation. Beneath every wintered tree lies a green branch busy storing energy and life so that at the perfect moment it not only gives out a little blush of green, no it burst forth in colour and life. So in these hard times we need to cling to the hope that lies below the surface.

In the same manner other times in our life are so filled with blessing, happiness and wellness tat we are actually at the risk o not noticing or appreciating the spring surrounding us. It’s in these times that we need to ensure we don’t take the “little things” in life for granted, but to instead stop and be thankful.

So on a personal note from our dry winter f 2011 God has provided us with a wonderful new home, my husband has been offered an awesome job 5 minutes from our new house and we have been placed within a new church family. Out of the dry branches has sprung forth life and life abundantly

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