Our Story Our Song Day 16 – Fish Hoek Beach

Saturday 25 Feb

20170225_095042By the morning I can no longer dwell on or consider the “what if” and what will be of the next few days. Living in the here and now is all that afford ones sanity. So waking early and noting that the tide would be out soon, we worked hard to bustle ourselves off to Fish Hoek beach.

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Oh and what a treat was in store for us! As we arrived a train pulled into the station. Then as we walked onto the beach a team of old school fisherman were bringing in their nets with their great catch of yellow tail fish. What fun we had watching and jumping out the way as they hauled it all ashore.

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This time even opened doors for us to speak to various beach goers about the fish, where they lived and their lives.  With some we could even testify to the goodness of Jesus within our lives. After this excitement our children hurried to the sea to splash and dig in the sand.

Before long a siren broke the calm and the white flag of shark alert was hoisted upon the flag pole. What fun it was watching people 20170225_102639who were already 2 meters away from the ocean dash further up off Fish Hoek beach, in case the shark were to jump ashore. So much excitement for one morning was awesome. The girls also made another 9 year old friend upon the beach. This was an answer to prayer for them as they have so missed all their friends at home.

After all this great excitement we were able spend the afternoon catching up with old friends and meeting their 5 and 2 year olds for the first time. Amber-May particularly loved her time in the park with Hannah. The evening was then spend catching up with another friend from way back when. Aaahh the sweet, sweet flavour of friendship and what we learn from each other. We spent a great deal of time discussing identity in Christ – which is something that God has gently been teaching us in the past year. How beautiful to see Jesus knitting the same threads throughout his body. The most profound moment was her statement that “at the age of 6 I gave my life to Jesus but only at 40 did I start living with Jesus.”

Before we knew it we saw that it was 1 am and we hurriedly said our farewells. Meeting old friends from a story that was written here 15 years ago and being able to bring truth and perspective into some very hurt lives is something we seem to be doing without that being part of the plan. It’s a prayer that through us healing will come through God using us here.

Our Story Our Song Day 14

Thursday 23 Feb 
20170223_123525This morning dawned bright and sunny but Neil and my moods were far from reflecting that. I could hear what I always tell the children,  “You can’t let your situation determine your mood,” swirling  around in my mind but yet the reality of not knowing where we would be staying next week was weighing so heavily upon me. My stomach ached and I could feel myself slipping into the panic mode I had lived in and needed to choose to fight off so many times in the past 2 years. At least I can now recognise it but try as I may I could just not fight it. How I miss the sweet fellowship at North Hills Church at home. Someone to go visit and to call and pray with you. We were sinking… All I could say was that I felt like I was on Survivor and was waiting to be voted off and sent home.

It’s not often that I get into such a bad place within my mind but when I do I feel like there is simply no way out or forward. I had begun asking on gumtree and searching Facebook and property sites in all earnestness, we began to talk about Neil maybe needing to get a job while we are here so we can pay for rent….. we were doing, making a plan every minute. Yet deep down I knew none of this would work. I knew it was all wrong but I had to do something. I had to make a plan I had to save us from not having a place to stay!

Then Living Hope called to move our meeting to Monday. So now the questions rage…. Should we be going to Living Hope? Does God want us to work into another area? We have committed to a time of serving how does that look and where will it happen?

After breakfast we called the children together to pray. Such simple prayers they offered. Simply asking God to show us the way forward and where we will stay. Everyone prayed right from Riley and Maisy we all offered up our prayers and requests.

After which they all offer up words of encouragement and what was on their hearts.

Nate shared the words from a song that said: “The mysteries of our God revealed” They are revealed but we don’t know when that will happen… now or a second before when we need them.

Kadin said he kept thinking of the scripture: John 17 – where Jesus is praying for all the believers to be unified. The exact scripture God had given us the week before.

And Lily read Ephesians 3: 14 -21 – A Prayer for the Ephesians: “14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  

All these words so encouraged for us all! It is so amazing having your children on team with you.

The whole time I kept thinking of the name of a friend of ours that we had not seen in the last few years. I know she’s had a tough time so I had only wanted to have fun when we saw her and not burden her by asking if she knew of anywhere we could stay but I kept feeling to contact her…..

So after our prayers I sent out a quick WhatsApp to her to say we were in town and hoped to connect sometime but we didn’t know if or where we’ll be next week.

20170223_074558We then managed to do some school work and Neil met some work deadlines before setting out to explore Simons Town and Boulders beach. On the way we stopped at estate agents and 2 other places to see if we could find accommodation. All fruitless efforts. I was still feeling an absolute melting down panic boiling within my mind and yet somehow since we had prayed my soul was at rest. I am finding so strange how in the last while I find myself often walking in these two different realms at the same time. Maybe someday I’ll learn to trust the kingdom realm to let go and just rest in what I know – deep within my soul – is right and peaceful.

20170223_143324Whilst playing at Boulders beach I checked my phone and there was a message from my friend saying she has two rooms for us to come and stay in. I’m not sure why we are to stay there or how it will work as it is far from Living Hope but God has clearly directed us to her door so it’s with excitement and anticipation that we will enter into the next part of our adventure.

What a better way to end off a miraculous day than to spend the evening with old friends catching up on the past 7 years whilst watching our kids reconnect and watching today close over the sea and mountains below. What an awesome, faithful God we serve!

Our Story Our Song Day 12 – 13

Tuesday 21 Feb – Wednesday 22 Fed

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By 9am we were packed up and on the road again. We knew that we had a long trip ahead of  us and we were all keen to get to Cape Town now so no sight-seeing was planned – just a long haul straight through to Cape Town. These kids are just amazing. They astound me with their ability to travel. Yet I see how the short trips we had to Pretoria last year and our trip to Kruger – where they all happily spent their day in the car looking for game proved to us they were able to do long hours in the car. This along with a prepacked bag of road trip activities, from sticker books to strips of contacts paper with little things to stick onto it, keep them all busy. We have also discovered the joy of audio stories that we are enjoying as a family, but I am constantly surprised that the biggest hit is for me to read while they draw or colour in. So the day quickly passed and suddenly were popped over Sir Lowry’s Pass and there below lay false bay! So much excitement filled our little contained space that I thought the car would explode.

20170221_135117We took a slow drive through the Cape flats – passed all the shacks adorned with satellite dishes and the roads piled with sand from the gale force winds blowing in from the sea.
Eventually we found our way to our friend’s house that we are house sitting and were all so excited to finally be here. Our happy day was topped off by a run on Fish Hoek beach – while the wind pummeled the shore the children chased the gulls before devouring chip rolls in the car and were all so ready to fall asleep as soon as we were back at the house.

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Wednesday was spent surprising old friends and showing the children some of our old favourite spots in and around the Southern Suburbs. The highlight of the day must have been the children’s first sighting of the squirrels as well as having lunch upon a rock Kadin used to love jumping from when he was 3 years old.

Kids were in bed at a decent time – for a change – and we intended on going to bed early. As we were locking up Neil picked up a pillow that was just outside the veranda door. One of the children had spilled something on it so I had placed it there to dry. Suddenly he jumped back as he lifted the pillow and there lay a puff adder snake!

Once the snake collector had come at 10pm to collect it and we had made sure that the fire we could see in the distance – was in fact not going to come any closer – we crept into bed. Only then did we realise how God was and is still so in control of the tiny details of our lives. Had I not put that pillow there the snake would have come into the house and if we had picked up the pillows earlier the snake would not have been so docile and would probably have struck.

Knowing all this I know with all my heart that God is for us and we serve such a mighty God and yet the fear and worry of the unknown place to stay next week is beginning to gnaw at my mind. In this unknown place I ask on Facebook if anyone knows of somewhere we can stay….. A friend messages to ask some details…. And though she can’t help I see that the last time I chatted to her on Facebook was in 2010 and what’s more there it is the link to a website that I have been looking for years. Royal Kids. I have wondered for years now who this group was that brought in untouchable children and raised them as prayer warriors for the nation. As I revisited their website and was reminded of the power of prayer we are realising that tomorrow we really need to pray together as a family! And yet the questions plague and the worry entangles. My stomach aches grow and Neil’s stiff neck makes sleep somewhat unrestful…..  Is this really where God wants us? Have we heard wrong? Should we just go home? I remember Neil’s prayer at supper – God please give us a place to stay compared to Kadin who simply prayed “God show us the next place we are to stay at.” Oh the faith of a child.

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This is Our Story This is Our Song Day 1


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This is my Story this is my song – praising my saviour all the day long. Silently the house sleeps as I pen my thought about today. But today didn’t start at 4:30 am this morning when I silently crept through to find my cup of tea and tin of biscuits. Biscuits made with the deepest love of a friend knowing how much they will speak to my heart in this crazy time we are stepping into….. No, this morning started many, many years ago. You see the day I was born my story begun and the day Neil was born his story begun. A great deal of which is lost in memory and a great deal I would like to choose to forget. The truth however is that we cannot sugar coat, rewrite or deny our story because it is being sung every day and once a story is sung it is out there for the world to see and share.Our stories are however made up of different books and chapters and right now we are writing one of the most interesting books of our life.

For about 18 months God has been speaking to us about going and walking in what he calls us to do. This has been through many dreams, prophesies, words and such. As I have time and I feel they are relevant I will share some of these profound truths God has stored up in our hearts. We didn’t quite however see what this was building up to until suddenly – here we are…… packing up on a 3 month road trip across South Africa.

You see this was not what we planned – actually nothing that has happened in the last 2 years is what we planned. Two years ago we bought our dream home and as I stood, teared up, I couldn’t believe God had given us the opportunity to live in such a beautiful home. My heart was so full. At this time our 7th child was born and so many people questioned and commented that that was when the words – This is my story, This is my song began to play in my mind. With full hearts we planned to live in our new home forever….. Continue reading

Mommy Tides

Waves

Pulsing forward, relentless, endless, foaming blue, climbing green. Reaching, pulling, tugging forming tide after tide, year after year waves pound and crash. Immediately ripped back from whence they came. Always reaching yet never arriving. Always trying, hoping yet never satisfied. Instead they pull and tug, shape and form the world below them.  Churning sands, crushing shells, throwing creatures from their home upon desolate sands. Striving, striving, driving, driving, pulling, tugging, churning tide after tide, year after year forever restless achieving nothing yet altering everything.

Does this churning, relentless mass reflect parenting, my life, your story? Striving, pulling, churning, tugging. Always trying, trying whilst churning and crushing the world below… Trying to ensure the home is not only well kept but sanctuary to all, including the wandering, distant stranger. Crushing every imaginary fort, artistic pursuit or creative flair in the chase for a perfect home. Trying to ensure manners are blossoming without reaching the broken confused soul beneath the plastic grin? Trying to ensure a solid educational foundation ignoring, hence squelching the quest for true knowledge, curiosity and insight desperate to be heard? Trying to show little ones God, his love, miracles, mercy and grace all the while tugging and pulling their natural gaze from Him toward the parent instead? Trying to create aesthetically and nutritionally awesome meals at the cost of pushing aside little hands and hearts desperate to be involved…. Trying, trying, pulling, pushing, tugging yet achieving nothing. Depositing scraps of sand upon the shores of life only to have the next wave wash it away again.

Above the relentless ocean soars the gull on wing and wind. Instead of the relentless tugging, pulling, scraping, it glides. Free, soaring. It’s nest is tenderly, thoughtful woven together. Built of the strongest sticks lined with the softest down, tenderly, lovingly prepared. Built to just the right size and shape for that year, that season, those tiny birds dependant on Mamma this year.

As our year draws silently toward its close let’s assess where we have been and how we have done it. Tugging, nagging, dragging or tenderly building and weaving something eternally beautiful into the lives of our precious little people.

Then just breath in the sweet salt air – free to all who choose to stop and drink it deep into the well of their being.

Nesting

As we sit and ponder the year behind and the one ahead let’s choose, not just for today but for the future of our children, let’s choose to soar. Instead of year after year tugging and pulling let us take this season to weave, with love, foreknowledge, instinct, care and compassion a nest designed just right in which your family can flourish. A nest that protects and provides warmth yet allows for individual growth and exploration. A nest safely tucked against the cliff, far above the crashing waves and sheltered from the howling storm. A nest keeping everyone safe within the protective boundary of love and acceptance. Then one no longer needs to keep striving, trying, pulling instead one can soar high upon the wings of creativity, free from a lifetime of bondage to this wearisome toil. Knowing for this season all are protected and safe within the boundaries of the nest. We can also rest assure that from this season, fledglings won’t be crushed and maimed but instead fed to flourish so that they too can soar!

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Parenting For Eternity

Someone recently posted a blog asking parents how they discipline, train and disciple their children. So many answers, so many opinions, so many philosophies – most totally contradicting one another – my head was swimming! So how do we know what is right? What are the chances of us doing a “good job” in raising children that not only “behave well” but children who choose to do what is right, even when they don’t feel like it, just because it is right. How do we raise children to think of and consider others before themselves? Children who have an undying, personal love for God, the earth and those around them, Children who are passionate and expressive, strong yet compassionate and gentle?

Honestly I don’t know!

But…

I know someone who does! Someone who not only knows all these answers but also knows each of my children personally. For this reason I do believe that the biggest, most important investment I made into parenting my children wasn’t buying the latest jungle gym or saving for a dream holiday but rather seeking my heavenly father for wisdom in raising the little people he has put into our care. Through the years He has gently guided, encouraged, rebuked and corrected our parenting and we have learned so many valuable lessons along the way.

So what I’ll share with you here are a few things we have found to be fundamental to parenting our children…

I remember, when our first child was a baby, hearing someone say that they did not allow fighting in their home. This took made me so a double take. Made me sit up an listen. Made me stop and consider all I knew about family, siblings and raising children. “Not allow it!?” As I processed this information I began to realise that as parents we are given our homes to “have dominion over”, to rule and reign. We have the right to determine the atmosphere, the attitudes, expectations and out play of bevaiour with this space we had been given dominion over. With this in mind we set out to determine what we wanted to have our family and home look like.We set high expectations for our children with regards to their bahaviour and attitudes toward one another. One of these is that our speech is to always be full of grace – love, forgiveness, patience and understanding.

Now setting the expectations and obtaining them were 2 separate things and in different seasons, for different children working towards them has meant different approaches. Ultimately when they are very little it meant removing them from a room, or sitting looking at a wall, till they could chose to talk nicely, chose to be kind or chose to change their attitude. As they became older and now knew the expectations we would ask them to “try again” when they used a harsh tone or were mean to someone else. This also often came hand in hand with role play and practicing how they will behave in a situation.

This set them up with a picture in their head of what was an appropriate response rather than just disciplining or punishing them for “being naughty” – leaving them with no idea on how to rectify their behaviour.

As the years have rolled by many situations have simply been spoken through. With the older children we have discussed how you respond when a friend leaves you out or says something hurtful. How to ensure a new child feels accepted in a group or that the boy who scores his own goal in soccer is not made to feel embarrassed. These discussions have once again set them up with an appropriate, loving response rather than leaving them to figure it out all on their own.

I remember hearing years later of another family who would not allow their children to entertain the idea of being a “teenager” due to the connotations, expectations and liberation this word presented but that they would rather become a “young adult” – an adult in training. This immediately changed the expected behavior and attitude of the child from one of reckless, selfishness to one of responsibility and maturity. With this in mind we started speaking of these things with our young children so that by the time they reach 13 they know what the expectation is of them. They look forward to being embraced into the “adult” world and their behaviour grows into this expectation.

God obviously also plays a vital role in all this as our children look to Him as their guide and as their personal relationship with him grows so does their desire to live in a way that honours him.

So no we don’t have all the answers and don’t always get things right. Yet we have learned, through God’s wisdom and guidance, that parenting is not about discipline but rather exception and then training, discipleship and mentoring a child into becoming all they were made to be.

 

Coming Home

Nagging and Nagging. Deliberate disobedience! Fighting. Arguing. Nastiness. I could no longer recognise my home. As I escaped to do some shopping I found myself walking the aisles dreading going back home. What had happened? After 12 years how could everything so quickly have fallen apart? How could my sweet, helpful children be the same people as these back lashing, nasty creatures that had slipped into our life?

Pacing up and down the pasta aisle my fervent prayers we met with a still, honest answer. I had neglected Being Mom. As much as I didn’t want to hear the truth I chose to look into the cold eyes of reality and take stock of my heart and focus in life. As I pushed the trolley past the milk I realised that unless I “came home” not only physically but emotionally too I would be setting out to “tear down my house.”

It wasn’t as if I had neglected my children. I spent almost every hour of every day with them and yet – when I chose to see the truth – even in being with them I had been absent. We have had the awesome privilege of setting up a homeschool learning centre. This has been an amazing adventure that we as a family had embarked upon as a ministry and we stand in awe of how God has used it to affect so many people’s lives. My children loved coming to do school at the centre. They had so much fun playing with the other children and all the art and crafts, science experiments and great things we offer there. I was there with them all morning. So how could anything have really changed?

Yet how silently and quickly the downward spiral had descended upon us! The symptoms I was now desperately trying to escape from were in fact my children desperately crying out not just for their mom to be around be for her to be present and her heart to be beating alongside theirs.  As I slowed my trolley I knew the truth. Yes I had been physically present with them but my focus had been on the other children. Always pushing my own aside, telling them I’d help them later at home – a later which in fact never came. With us rushing out in the morning we no longer sat and savoured breakfast. The afternoons were a flurry of extra murals. By the evening I was prepping for the next day – time only for bath, supper and bed. No stories or snuggle time. Mom was stretched beyond and having so many people relying on her she let her own slip between her fingers.

In a haze I left the shop and silently began the journey home. My mind full of all that now needed to take place for me to once again return home. God in his love and grace speedily sent me two amazing facilitators to run with lessons at the facilitation centre. They have been such a blessing and have done such a marvelous job. With that I was able to quickly return home. Back to lengthy breakfasts, one on one reading and maths lessons with my weaker children, stories outside in the sun, cuddles when a knee or heart was sore. Healthy food once again began to appear on our table and within days all the nastiness disappeared. Yes, my children do still fight and they still don’t clean their rooms when asked but those things were always there. It’s the grating, antagonising and deliberate disobedience that has all vanished as a vapour that never was.

This Mommy has now learned the truth of Proverbs 14:1 “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” And by keeping God close by my side I do trust to keep walking in wisdom.

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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St Nicholas Celebration

Many years ago when our first son celebrated his first Christmas something just didn’t sit right with us regarding the whole Santa Clause – Father Christmas experience. This was strange as these childhood fantasies were the structure upon which my childhood was build. That aside… we chose a different route for our growing family.

We are in a difficult situation as the rest of the cousins believe in Father Christmas, sleigh , reindeer and elves overseeing their annual behaviour… Therefore in a bid to maintain family relationships and not foster pride in our children (explaining to them that other people choose to celebrate St Nicholas day on Christmas day) we chose to create and celebrate our own St Nicholas day.  This began with us making a pope’s hat – which is looking a bit weathered after 11 years of use. Then on the 6 December, after dinner we sit the children down and using very basic pictures off clipart we tell the wonderful story of how a real pope called Saint Nicholas helped pay for 3 girls to get married, by throwing gold down the chimney into their stockings. During the story Dad leaves the room and as I end the story he reappears in the hat and a big jacket or bathrobe. How funny how the children don’t recognise him! Only at the age of 6 does one of them say, “but it’s dad!” Only for us to hear another whisper, “He just has Dad’s shoes on!” St Nicolas then greets the children and says he’s so glad to hear us telling of how he gave and he then gives each child a tiny gift. This may even be just a small bag of sweets – the one year they got a tub of ice-cream to share with the family. He then reminds them about God and how he gave Jesus and how we must now prepare our hearts to give during the Christmas season.

After a quick photo shoot he leaves and the children head off to bed. This is the beginning of our time of thinking of others. This is out played in that each child is to personally make gifts for other family members. Another activity is that when we put up the nativity set Jesus manger is empty and we have a small tub of straw. Every time someone helps another or silently serves someone they get to put a piece of straw in the manger. It’s the hope that on Christmas morning there will be a soft bed for Jesus to lie in.

St Nicholas day has become a much loved family celebration that lasts maybe 45 minutes and yet speaks volumes to not only the children, but our hearts too.

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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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