Travel is in our blood!

Travel is in our blood – what can I say. We are heading out again. Making steps into eternity, intentional about extending His Kingdom in the lives of people we meet.

AND – we finally we did it! An almost 3 week trip with just a boot full – no trailer – for 8 of us… including our food! So proud of these little peeps in learning to pack light. It makes all the difference when moving from place to place.travel is in our blood 1

 
Today’s destination is Nelspruit some 600 km away .
By 8 am we had the house cleaned and ready for our house sitter. By 8:15 am once again we felt the thrill of the road beneath our wings.
As we headed north east – dusty, dry, arid land surrounded us for the most of today. Rocky outcrops, thorn trees and dust….. so much dust…..

Fort Durnford

We are in the midst of reading Jenny Seed’s book Prince of the Bay so we couldn’t afford driving past Escort where there is Fort Durnford that was used to protect farmers from Shaka’s warriors – seen in the valley below the cannons. What a find! From historic documents, to swords and Zulu shield to a full egg collection from birds throughout Africa to dinosaur bones and a mini town scene. Soon our 20 min stop was extended into well over an hour.
Sobering scenery, road work blocks, very few places for loo breaks made for a very long, charcter building day on the road and our host house in Nelspruit such a welcoming oasis.

And We’re Off

11am 10 February 2017 and we have bundled 6 of our little people and ourselves into our big blue car, hitched up our trailer and we off!

So much excitement here as we spend the next 10 days exploring our beautiful land before arriving Cape Town. Yet this is so much more than just a 3 month trip around South Africa…. as we drive past the the corn fields – white – ready for harvest… We hear our Father calling…. not just for this trip but for our life – our story – our song!

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Raising Little – Big People

What a privilege it is to be a Mommy and be able to daily watch our little people grow from scrunched bundles of pink to dirty toddlers into lanky teenagers and beyond….. As we navigate this uncharted territory with each individual child I repeatedly remember someone once telling me that, “We are not raising children but adults.” In our homes we don’t have before us a future Big Kid but instead a little Mommy or Daddy, a business owner, an entrepreneur, a farmer, a dancer, an artist, a friend, a home maker, a designer. All these things and so many more are all packaged up – often not so neatly – into these little bundles set before us. So as we discipline and train and mentor our children as much as it feel tedious and that I’m doing this to just have some quiet or order in my day today – we are in fact missing the whole point. All our hard work parenting isn’t about the here and now or today but rather about the “..ever after.” And yet what we do today can deeply impact that to become a “happy” or “disastrous” ever after story.

As I hear my son speak sharply, using harsh, barking commands with his sisters everything within me wants to give him a piece if my mind and send him into a timeout – till he can be nice! Yet what will this gain? How will he know “how to be nice” if I never equip him with the gentler tones to replace those bossy ones that come so naturally to a born leader? I once again gently draw him aside reminding him how you use your voice matters and how it effects  people. We talk about what our home would be like if his daddy spoke to me like he spoke to his sisters. We talk about him being a Daddy and a business owner and how he thinks his family and employees would like to be spoken to. Because the reality is the way he talks to his siblings will overflow into the way he talks to his wife and those around him in his adult life.

Beyond just managing the way our children talk to one another we have an awesome opportunity to use our daily lives to equip them with business, family, home making, people, leadership and many, many more skills that they can draw from in their adult lives. I send an older child to fetch a younger sibling off the trampoline, ask a 8 year old to make biscuits, request an older sibling to bath, dress and make a bottle for the baby, I require one to call the library to renew the books or another to phone the take away to order dinner. By the age of 10 every child needs to know how to run the home for a day – do and hang the washing, cook 3 meals, look after the younger siblings and such. A challenge each of our children have risen too and been so proud to achieve.

So as I lie on the grass in the park and watch my 13 year old stroll off with his 2 baby sisters in tow – seeing him playing with them and taking such joy in them as well as taking the initiative to take their hands and care for them my heart swells with pride as I see not before my eyes a clumsy, lanky 13 year old but instead a little Daddy. A small man-child growing in his role of leader, provider, carer and protector of those placed within his care.

As I hear my 9 year old ensure that everyone is doing their part to clear and clean the kitchen after dinner I see before me growing a leader and CEO who understands a job well done. As I need to yet again remind an 8 year old to put her clothes in the washing or cupboard I am seeing to the training of a homemaker. As we discuss money spending and saving principles in an aisle in Spar I am witnessing the training of business men and women. When I once again train a tone or attitude used in jest or nastiness toward a sibling we are building good friends and citizens of the world. Don’t be fooled by their size – nothing is ever lost on these little people of ours.

Let us not underestimate these “little people” who right before our eyes have the capacity to change the future through the way they will one day love their families, run their businesses and share their talents with the world around them. So keep on keeping on. Your efforts will reap many a reward in the years to come.

What a Week

 

Just out of theater and already looking up his English League soccer results.

So this last week has been one that I would not choose to repeat anytime soon and yet as difficult as it was we have been challenged, stretched and grown. Kadin has for a while been due to have corrective surgery on his ribcage. So this was the week.

Unfortunately it had to be done at a hospital an hour and a half from our home.  After much deliberation we decided to leave the other kids with Neil at my folks house half an hour from the hospital while I boarded with Kadin at the hospital.  A family split in 2 for 4 days and a child in ICU after having one of the most painful operations done stretched us to the core. Yet we had to find a way to survive.

The beautiful view from the hospital window.

 

Eventually we struck the silver lining by realising our only way to cope was to be thankful. Thankful for this horrid intrusion in our lives? Thankful that Kadin needed a metal bar inserted into his chest? Thankful that we were exhausted beyond imagination and thankful that everyone was being stressed in ways we had not known before?

And even now he reads!

Needless to say – we had to dig deep – really deep to see why we could possibly be thankful for this to be taking place. We began with thankfulness that Kadin and I could spend so much time together watching movies and just being together. He was thankful for the soccer he was able to watch on TV at the hospital, the awesome food he was given and the sweets visitors brought him.  We then began to dig deeper and I realised that I was thankful that Kadin had this opportunity to grow his character. To learn about bravery in a non traumatic way and to really know what pain was so that he could grow his compassion for others in pain. I was also thankful that the other children had an amazing time with their grandparents that they will always remember, we managed to squeeze in a family trip to the sharks board and I too learned so much about patience and servanthood this week.

 

Loving the spoiling at Bibi and Babu’s house.

I realised that too often we focus on our difficulties and not on how they can actually bring such growth and give us new and different experiences that we would have otherwise missed.  So in this crazy week I learned that if we take time to still ourselves long enough, choose to dig deep enough and open our eyes we can in fact find joy in all circumstances.

At home being looked after by his Littlest People.

Cedar Wood

At the beginning of 2013 God led us to begin a homeschool facilitation centre. This has been a most awesome privilege and adventure to embark upon!

We started out with my 4 and just 2 others last year and are now up to 12 children. The vision God has planted into our hearts is to open a learning environment that is an extension of our home. A place that breaths God, a place where individually, excellence, diligence, creativity and a high standard of academics are valued.

Each child is on their own individual program – which makes for interesting mornings, but as they are at their own level for each subject, engaging in work they are excelling in, at a pace and presented in a way that is personally unique to them they are all so motivated.

Each child has a tablet, connected to the wifi, which they use throughout the day to access their reading or maths, science or history. They are required to to do daily research and then narrate about what they have discovered.

Cedar Wood is based upon a Charlotte Mason philosophy and we use a great deal of the Sonlight curriculum – especially for the history and geography. Neil runs awesome weekly science lessons that the kids can’t wait for and many Fridays are spent attending various outings or herb club (run by Peter’s Gate a farm in the midlands that grows herbs and produces herb products.)

Each child is issued with a planner of their day’s work and what they need to achieve during the day. What they don’t complete in the morning they do at home. We don’t have a break time – they simply get to eat when their work is done.

I have stood in awe of how responsible each child is for their work – even our youngest 4 year old diligently takes responsibility for her own learning! The children manage their time and their own work program. It is so interesting to watch the level of excellence and work ethic they place on themselves.

Yes there are squabbles and irritations and attitudes that need to be tweaked but just as in a family these are dealt with promptly and given natural consequences and choices they usually come right quickly.

I think the biggest reflection that this is something good that we have stumbled upon is that the number of parents who have called me to say that within 5 weeks of their children joining Cedar Wood their confidence has skyrocketed. This was never something Cedar Wood aimed to do and yet as the children have grown in responsibility and freedom to be who they were made to be this has been a natural progression.

So as we step boldly into 2014 we hope to soon have many more children learning in this sort of environment.

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Walking in a Land of Hope

Well to say the least 2013 has been one adventure followed by the next… Besides losing our internet connection for 7 months – and hence the lack of blogging, we have started a new business Cedar Wood – an education facilitation center, changed jobs, had a baby and all got a year older all whilst continuing with the realities of daily life.

Our theme for Christmas last year was Hope. Hope in Christ, Hope in new beginnings, Hope in friendships, Hope in meeting a healthy baby soon, Hope in the starting of a new business, Hope in anticipated family days blooming ahead and often just plain Hope in the fact that we do in fact have the joy of Hoping.

Many times the clouds have gathered, pressure has surmounted, jobs have toppled, relationships have been strained, parenting stretched and one has lost every glimmer of hope. Yet the promise has still stood. The promise of a future, the promise of a tomorrow, the promise of God, saving grace and the promised Hope of forever. Yet the simple small word of “Hope” has been the anchor. The anchor that holds, the anchor that binds, the anchor that bridges us upon the wandering, often storming waves, to the firm unwavering rock below.

As we have walked this uncharted land and forged where we have not been before the sturdy rock of Hope, that sure foundation of all time, has allowed us to hold fast to keep looking ahead and to know tomorrow will come.

As we enter the last months of 2013 our Hope still stands firm, today we stand looking toward the horizon and instead of seeing the endless storming sea of What Next, we are viewing the firm land of tomorrow. Where exactly that tomorrow is or what that land holds we will not know until we step upon its soil. One thing we do however know is that tomorrow is no longer a Hope of a future but rather a sure foundation upon which we are headed, a solid land to which we have been promised.

To live without Hope is to live forever upon the stormy sea of doubt and panic. To live without Hope is to wander aimlessly upon uncharted seas without a compass or the sun to guide one. To live without Hope is to forever swim in darkness with knowing the morning will never come.

Hope is however the light, compass and surety of tomorrow that keeps one moving solidly forward through the darkest, most stormy seas. It’s this Hope upon which we have learned, during this year, to cling and live. And it’s this Hope, the Hope that sends a double rainbow after the most epic storms – that has offered us not only a solace and comfort but fed us with Joy and excitement as we’ve traveled upon this crazy, uncharted path called Our Life!

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A Walk By Faith

The last few months have been a time of deep,inward reflection. A time of re-evaluating our dreams, desires, wants and life path.

Some History: Having taught in remedial classes until our son was born 10 yrs ago I was not ready to leave my career for anything. Yet when our son turned 3 months old and I had to return to work my heart was broken. Something deep inside me snapped – something I didn’t know was even there, was now directing every step of our lives… With that I resigned and the real adventure was about to begin. As a stay at home mom of one baby I was busy – but also craved company and “brain food.” With these desires firmly intact I happened to stumble upon homeschooling, Sonlight and Wendy Young – co-author of the South African curriculum Footprints. As I delved further into this new realm of understanding blinkers began to fall from my eyes a whole new world of thought and understanding of education and child rearing was being revealed. As I befriended Charlotte Mason – 19th Century Educationist – my entire world view began to heave and shift. My reality sat upon very unstable ground. The next ten years were spent busy readjusting my thought patterns, soaking up this new understanding and realigning my life to a life of child led education, filled with living books, project based education that drew from a child’s desire to want to know.

To the present:

I have stood in awe as my one son’s love for birds taught him to read and recognise all the countries of the world whilst our second son’s love to sport has taught him the exact same information. This was not regulated to lessons or a curriculum it just poured naturally from them. Calculations of birds distance flown or the number of goals scored in this match or that and the average speed of a bird or the average number of goals scored by a player see numerous sums being calculated daily. Yes living books and a curriculum such as Sonlight fuels the fire and helps drive the boat – but that in itself – opposed to a teacher driven model of marks, punishment and rewards was all new to me.

So here we sit 10 years on…. Very comfortable in our daily routine, life could quite happily continue in this vein for another 18 years. But Mom’s becoming restless, a silent whisper settles upon her heart. “I didn’t train you for nothing… now’s your time.” A whisper that will not be stilled or leave…. The nudge begins, the ideas grow, the pull in epic, it will leave no peace until it’s faced. Finally the time arrives. The time to choose to listen or choose to run. But where will one run too? Is Tarshish far enough? Would the voice not follow there too? Maybe it’s time to simply stop and listen – so we did… After months of prayer and deliberation we feel a deep calling within the heart of our family to start a learning centre – a place for children to be assisted within their homeschool journey. For each family this may look different. Some may come for a few hours a week, others every morning, whilst others may just be to guide the folks. Our deepest heart cry is for the many children literally dying in the system and owning to parents commitments they simply have no alternative. It’s our hope that this learning centre will provide them with time to complete their maths and language whilst giving them opportunities to follow their interests, passions, and learn from their heart – whether it be birds or rugby…. So today we take a the first steps into this unknown territory as we embark upon this crazy walk by faith…. Only God knows what it’ll look like and who He’ll bring but for now all we can say is: We are willing – let the adventure begin!

The Road Not Taken

By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Breaking the Silence

Many may have wondered why I dropped off the end of the earth for the past few months? If so – sorry – but now I’m back. The reason for the silence:well it’s difficult to explain but sometimes there is just nothing to say.

Yes the last few months have been busy and interesting but yet I felt the deep need to just suddenly say nothing but to rather spend the time listening. Listening to other’s thoughts and advice, listening to what’s going on inside, listening to God, listening to the birds and trees. All the while searching what these voices are drawing us to and for what reason they are speaking so loudly – so much so – that I could not find it within myself write or blog or even see many other people.

So was it worth it – the silence?Oh yes, I’m feeling once again filled up. We have a new direction and anticipation for the year ahead. It has taken time to absorb and soak in the new adventures ahead but it was oh so good to see through the fog as to where we are heading.

So yes, there was a silence, but now it has been broken with great excitement and fervor to embrace and share the times ahead. So if you are keen to see what’s in store jump on and join the ride!

Native American Party

What an epic week we have had. How did we ever manage to have a four year age gap between our boys and then have end up with their birthdays being a day apart!

One of our highlights of all our parties is that they always have a theme. This year was more difficult as Raine turned 10 – so moving out of the kid stuff, whilst Reid being just 6 is still into any thing that involves cake, face paint and friends.

 

The Native American idea worked well as firstly we have been learning about them in our school work and Reid has just spent a term at music where America has been the focus. So the boys had a bit of back ground and this type of party also involved lots of activity and running around – always good when there is sugar involved!

The party “plan” was fairly basic. Boys were split into 2 tribes (older and younger), Raine and Reid were made the chiefs – by being presented with feathered headdresses that Lady Mom had made for them. Raine has now decided that he needs to wear it whenever he’s with his friends as it made them listen to him. How funny – maybe Mom should get one too!

The boys began by needing to build a wigwam in their teams, they then had to make their own headdress with feathers on a trip of paper, paint their faces and make a tribal band from fruitloops. This done they needed to shoot some balloons with a bow and arrow. They then progressed onto making a fire. Once the fire was made they were able to cook their sausages for lunch.

The party worked out to be a fairly great balance as the older boys were not too keen on the fruitloops and headdresses – whereas the little ones were. However the older boys spent ages building their fire and collecting more and more dry sticks to make it bigger and bigger – whilst the younger boys didn’t enjoy the smoke and moved off to other activities.

Due to the big age gap we always have extra siblings hanging around at parties so this year we decided to have a family braai for anyone who wanted to stay. Therefore once the boys had finished their challenges and had eaten to their full they spent the afternoon shooting arrows, sliding on the bank with boxes and playing soccer. It was so great to have the families there as it meant a number of dads stayed to help make arrows, build fires and to generally see no one got hurt.

We are not mad on sugar highs so we simply gave each child a small party pack with some chips, 4 sweets and 4 biscuits. Each child then had a sausage roll for lunch and we had ice-cream, jelly and birthday cake for pudding.

The Birthday Cake

At the last minute we realised that on the day of the party it was a year previously that we had moved to our new town and as we stood around with all these amazing people it was not simply a celebration of the boys’ birthdays but a celebration of God has done in our lives and all these wonderful people we now call our friends!

The day was filled with fun and laughter and much to Lady Mom’s relief no one was hurt with flying arrows! This party was also so special as it involved the Dads and will be a memorable day for the whole family.

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