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, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 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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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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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!

Free to Choose

English: Portrait of a girl from Portugal

What is it that all humans crave, strive for and will die for? Freedom.  Freedom to be ourselves, freedom to make our own choices and to have the right to be who we are. Freedom is a powerful concept and realisation, for one to be able to express ones freewill is the ultimate human experience. To be able to choose, to be able to decide for yourself and do exactly as one wishes gives one not only the feeling of liberty but one of power, integrity and self-worth.

If as parents we tap into this inbuilt desire for one to be able to express our own freewill we are able to make parenting and discipline all that much easier – as the child ends up doing all the work for us. As with all aspects of life one may have the right to express ones freewill, however there is a natural law that sees that every action results in a consequence. Children need to learn that their choices result in natural consequences.

Within the home or school one needs to have boundaries and acceptable conduct. The children then need to be aware of the choices they may choose from and what the consequences may be. It could look something like this: It is decided that within your home you don’t permit hitting. Therefore a child who chooses to hit – experiences a natural consequence – they are removed from all other children and are required to sit alone until such time as they choose to no longer hit. There is no time limit set on their “timeout” as once they choose to apologise and change their behaviour the natural consequence is that they may return. If however they hit again, well they are again removed.

As parents it is our responsibility to let our children know about the choices they have before them and what the consequences of these choices may be. We then leave them to choose and simply ensure that the natural consequences play their roll. If homework is not complete they may miss going to the beach as they need to complete it on Saturday. If they choose to not help tidy their room they may need to miss a movie to do it. This is very different from threatening or punishing a child who does not complete their task.  It is rather a natural result of the choices they have made.

The great part about tapping into the desire for one to express one’s own freewill is that you are able to step back and no longer need to rant and rave and become emotionally involved. As parents we are often too scared to allow our children to make their own choices. Instead we take on the responsibility of deciding for them and so prevent them from feeling the pain of poor choices. The result being not only that the parents are becoming more and more tense and emotionally drained but children are not learning to take responsibility and ownership for the choices they make.

Choices are fantastic, they make parenting so much easier because if a child is offered the choice to obey or share or work in a team and they choose not to it’s their choice and they are in effect “choosing their consequences.” A child may not choose what one thinks is wise or good or right but that is how they learn. Rather they learned the pain and joy of expressing their freewill within the safety of their home than to feel the full pain of making foolish choices later in life.

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More Than Just a Burger

This week a friend of mine sent me one of those emails that just keeps floating around and around in ones head:

 Yesterday, I was chatting to a guy who is busy finishing off some painting work around our house. He started off saying that he and his family went out to Spur for dinner for the buy one burger get one free special. And because of the number of kids in the family, they ended up with one extra burger to take home. Then he said, his wife packed his lunch this morning and gave him peanut butter sandwiches, packing the hamburger for herself for her lunch. “You know what,” he said “last time she did exactly the same thing. I thought she would give it to me, you know, like it was my turn. At least she made me lunch, I guess.”

Phew! This makes one want to cry, jump up and down or do something for this wife to realise that her husband goes off everyday to serve his family and she took the whole burger and gave him peanut butter, not even something else yummy. She didn’t even just take half – but the whole thing! What sort of wife is she anyway?

Well, she’s probably a lot like most of us in many ways. Maybe this is why this rings so true and so deep to us wives. How often do we prefer ourselves above our husbands? This maybe in the area of food, such as eating the one biscuit left or buying a treat for oneself but not for him. It could be in the way we put our clothes away and not his or we serve the children their food and leave him to serve his own. We tidy the house but never offer to wash his car or we organise a holiday around where we want to go and what we want to do.

We are all human and a core element of our humanity is selfishness. It’s something we try to work out of our children but if we are honest with ourselves we will agree that it is rather suppress than conquered. Daily we need to choose to die to ourselves and think of others before ourselves. Ever time we put our men before us it is a conscious – and often difficult – decision and yet it is something that has the power to change lives and save marriages.

A few years back, whilst reading Created to be His Help Meet” by Debi Pearl, I was struck by the stories of these women who chose to keep serving their men through the most horrific circumstances. I was infuriated by them and yet inspired. Yes, it was only through the strength of God that they could do what they did but hey, we have access to that strength too.

Recently we out for dinner with six couples. The moms are all friends and the husbands are just beginning to connect. Suddenly the one husband – probably the youngest in the group – says, “you know what I love about my wife, what I really love about her is that I can call home at any time of day and tell her I’m bringing some friends around and tell her what we want to have for tea or lunch and you know what, when we get there she has it all ready! I’ve even done it a few times just to show off to the other guys.”

Wow what a testimony to the power that lies within the way we serve our husbands. So let us be encouraged and inspired. Let this painter’s sad experience be turned into one of victory as it has a hand in making many of us have a hard look and reevaluate how we are preferring our husbands. Guaranteed serving and preferring him will not only increase his love and affection for you but you will become a “wife of noble character (who) is her husband’s crown” Prov 12:4 and as he “has full confidence in her and lacks nothing,” Prov 31:11 “he is respected at the city gate.” Prov 31:23

So yes, we may think it’s just a hamburger but really our husband’s pride, honour and crown are at stake. So let us all take that deep breath, look deep into our hearts and see just how we are able to daily prefer our husbands and watch a transformation take place within our homes.

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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Nature Walk in Botanical Gardens

Our weather here in South Africa has been amazingly HOT about 40 Deg C (104 deg F). With effect that we haven’t ventured out the house much-except to the swimming pool! So today I decided no matter what the heat was we were going on a nature walk in our botanical gardens.

When we pack for a nature walk food is a must, but so is our nature bag. In our nature bag each child (and mom) has a drawing book, we have pencil crayons and crayons as well as other stationary, tweezers, magnifying glass, zip lock packets and such.

So even though we were wilting ……..we put on our cheerful faces and headed out.

 

One of the highlights is to ring the old ship bell that stands at the entrance to the avenue of Plane Trees.

While reading all about the bell’s past adventures….

Then as in all families with little people nothing goes well till the tummies are full. So we found a fantastic picnic spot! Please note the new lunch boxes – they have changed my life! Instead of one box for all – everyone has their own packed lunch what a pleasure 🙂

Then special times of bonding together. I love how close the children are and that even though the age gaps are big they still love to hang out together.

Everyone took turns swinging each other around in circles

Whilst chasing a lizard up a tree – some investigated whilst others clambered up an old vine entangled around the tree.


Little people learned how to use a magnifying glass.

We were chased by geese.

While some terrapins came to say hello….We took some time to draw what we saw.

We went for a nature walk and besides seeing some interesting birds Maiden #1 managed to just miss been splatted on by a hadeda.

As we strolled along we stopped to look at some bugs and interesting plants.

We listened and laughed and ran and crept. We took time to day dream and just be.

No we didn’t do maths, or language arts, we didn’t write a report or carry clipboards. But we learned SO much. We learned to stop and take time to just enjoy being together in nature. We learned to just stop and be still. We learned that goslings can make us shriek with delight while terrapins held us awestruck. The Hammerkop’s cry kept us captivated while while mysterious paths keep us intrigued.

“Mommy, is God as big as those trees?”

“Bigger.”

“Wow” stands in silent awe and then: “What a huge God we’ve got”

A day well spent I’d say!

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 – let alone a baby born 2000 years ago having any eternal significance to us. It is purely through this baby’s life, death, resurrection and kingship that we can remember, rejoice and celebrate this babe’s birth.

We spent time discussing how we would treat a king. What gifts we would bring and the time we’d spend trying to see his face. We then looked at what gifts our king would like – “a broken and contrite heart.” We also discussed how much time we spend searching Our King’s face.

Later we spent time asking ourselves what a King would expect from his subjects – he’s 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 – so 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 – which 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!

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