Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cross on Over

It's true. My 'mojo'  is back! I'm writing again!

So do come on over, pay me a visit, and continue this journey with me.

Looking forward to seeing you there....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Moment in May

My house is quiet. And I desire to write.

But my fingers pause over the keyboard.


Stamping out a few words, letters...then deleting them.

Looking out the window at the ha-de-dah skewering worms on his beak.

It feels like I can't do this anymore.

"This"  being this blog. "This" being writing but not writing. Sharing but not sharing.

Pretending really.

This is not who I am.

I am all or nothing.

Soul bared and soul shared, or silent. IRL ( I have never needed to use that abbreviation ever before! That made me grin!) I strongly dislike small talk.

I like being real. I can't tell you how that began, or why, but it is something that I am supremely comfortable with. I'm comfortable with that skin. I'm emotional. Intense. Deep. Analytical. Obsessive. Yip, that's me. Comfortable.

And here's the funny part. I'm comfortable with being real with the people I know. And I have sometimes even been real with people I don't know, or people I have only just met.

But writing this blog - I come unstuck. I come unstuck because I know some of you. Some of you well, some of you not so well. Some of you I don't know at all.

My hear is shrouded right now... I feel it atrophying at the edges. And the only way I know how to massage it is to write.

And my question is much of my heart do I serve up to you in a post?

What will happen to my heart?

Should this blog continue to live?

... and yet something within me cries out for women to be real, for there to be a community that holds one another's hearts and loves and cares and cradles them...the whole Titus 2 bit. And sometimes it's safer online. It's safer than real life.

Do I shut this blog down and invite those of you who want to over to another?

Am I confusing journaling with blogging?

But honesty always COSTS. And I'm not sure I'm willing to pay right now.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Regal Royalty

Yip, I'm one of them. One of the nearly 2 billion people who watched the royal wedding (does than number include Internet watchers I wonder?). And I unashamedly loved it. LOVED Kate's little giggle after the balcony kiss. Loved that a commoner has married into the family. Loved that the world loves her. Loved that her parents have brought up two amazing level headed daughters.

I loved that 2 billion people all across the world were inspired by it - sure some folks were just watching it because everyone else was, but really - that number of people across the world are searching.


Hoping for something more in life.

That wedding, in all its forms, catches at our hearts, pulls at our dreams and calls us out.

It smacks of God.

And our cynical world laps it up.

Because he created us to love and be loved.

And funnily I'd just picked up "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge and "Do you think I'm beautiful?" by Angela Thomas, because I'm again, trying to figure out what it means to be a woman, and trying to understand...

And I'm reminded.

The question every boy grows up to ask as a man is "Have I got what it takes?" That's why men crave our respect, our belief.

And the question every little girl asks whilst growing up, and the one she continues to ask even as an adult is "Do you think I'm lovely?".
Not every woman wants a battle to fight, but every woman yearns to be fought for...She wants to be more than noticed - she wants to be wanted. She wants to be pursued.
Every woman also wants an adventure to share...A woman doesn't want to be the adventure; she wants to be caught up into something greater than herself....
Every woman wants to have a beauty to unveil. Not to conjure up, but to unveil. Most woman feel the pressure to be beautiful from very young, but that is not what I speak of. There is also a deep desire to simply and truly be the beauty, and be delighted in.

Food for thought huh?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mole Crickets

I once heard a man tell a story about a hard lesson he learned—only after it was too late. This fellow took special pride in his home's finely manicured lawn and its flawless landscaping. One afternoon he was in his front yard talking with his neighbor when he noticed something moving in the grass. The neighbor said,  “You have mole crickets. If you don't do something quickly, your lawn will be destroyed.”
The man had never heard of such a thing. He looked at his beautiful, deep green lawn, then shrugged it off as nothing to worry about. A few weeks later he noticed brown spots starting to appear. As the weeks went by, the brown spots spread. He tried adjusting the sprinklersand used various different fertilizers and sprays, but nothing worked. Within a few months, his once immaculate lawn was in ruins.
He had an expert come out. The verdict came back:  “Mole crickets!” “But how?” he exclaimed. “I tend this lawn every day and I never saw anything but an occasional bug.” The expert lifted up a section of dead sod and there, to the man's shock and amazement, the grass roots were completely severed!
“Mole crickets,” he explained, “live under ground and only come out at night to eat at the roots. The blades look lush and green, but underneath the surface the crickets are eating away. You might see one or two during the day and think it's no big deal. But by the time the brown spots start appearing, it's too late; the damage is already done.” The expert reachedbeneath a patch of brown grass and picked up a thrashing, one-inch-long insect.  ‘This is the culprit, “he said. The man stared down at the little bug and then at his destroyed lawn. He couldn't believe it.
We enjoy freedom, peace and prosperity in this great country of ours as a result of our forefathers and mothers taking care of the roots—recognizing and destroying the lethal elements before they could do permanent damage. The grass has been green and lush, but brown spots are beginning to appear. Pornography's “cyber-mole crickets” are eating away at the roots of decency and freedom as millions are trapped in addiction. What are we doing to fight them? What will our children and grandchildren do when, through our neglect, procrastination and complacency, society's once-lush turf lies brown and dead?
Internet porn and sexual-oriented chat rooms are working “under the surface” in our society. You can't immediately see the damage being done. It is quietly and privately going on behind closed doors in bedrooms, dens and offices all across America. It's a seemingly little thing, really. One person on a computer here, another there. You see the signs of damage every now and then—a woman is raped, a porn-addicted father molests hisdaughter, a pedophile stalks a child.  “But these are extremes,” you think, “afew brown spots. Most of the lawn is nice and green. It's only a few mole crickets.”
But under the surface, in millions of homes and offices, outside the direct view of society, a plague is eating away at the roots of freedom, decency, women's rights, family relationships and values, respect, integrity and honor.  Do we even have a clue to the extent of damage that is being done? How can we accurately predict the long-term consequences for our children, grandchildren and future generations? Never before has this country experienced such an avalanche of pornography—available at the push of a button, on the computer or cell phone screen—to men, women, teens and children. Where will all of this lead? How much damage will the underground mole crickets of porn inflict before we take it all seriously?
More articles and fascinating reads here, and check out this site too....

Mark B. Kastleman is the author of the bestselling book, The Drug of the New Millennium—the Brain Science Behind Internet Pornography Use. Mark and his colleagues are leaders in the development of personal e-learning systems. Through the latest technology, they provide internet-based addiction recovery training and personal growth programs. Mark is Co-Founder and Director of Education&Training at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Excerpts: One Thousand Gifts...

I have finally finished reading One Thousand Gifts, and wanted to share with you all these last few excerpts that have buried themselves in my heart.... (photos are Ann Voskamp's, from the book gallery)

  • My mama, valley wise and grief traveled, she always said, 'Expectations kill relationships.' And I've known expectations as a disease, a silent killer heaping her burdens on the shoulders of a relationship until a soul bursts into a pulmonary and dies. 'Expectations kill relationships - especially with God. And that's what a child doesn't have: this whole edifice of expectation. Without expectations, what can topple the surprising wonder of the moment?

  • ...I remember: Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment. a distrust in the love-beat of the Father's heart....

  • ...In the moment of singing that one line, dedicating the work as thanks to Him, something - the miracle- happens, and every time. When service is unto people, the bones can grow weary, the frustration deep. Because, agrees Dorothy Sayers,  'whenver man is made the centre of things, he becomes the storm-centre of trouble. The moment you think of serving people, you begin to have the notion that other people owe you something for your pains...You will begin to bargain for reward, to angle for applause.'                          When the laundry is for the dozen arms of children or the dozen legs, it's true, I think I'm due some appreciation. So comes a storm of trouble and lightning strikes joy. But when Christ is at the center, when dishes, laundry, work is my song of thanks to Him, joy rains. Passionately serving Christ alone makes us the loving servant to all. When the eyes of the heart focus on God, and the hands on always washing feet of Jesus alone - the bones, they sing for joy and the work returns to it purest state: eucharisteo. The work becomes worship, a liturgy of thankfulness. 

  • I walk in our back door to candlelight still flickering, hang the keys on the hook and look around  at the steep mountain of laundry there in the mudroom, the shoes scattered, a coat dropped. The mudroom sink is grime ringed. Fingerprints smear across the mirror. I laugh the happiest wonder. In the afternoon's drizzle, I give happy thanks for the daily mess with a smile a mile wide, because this is again my chance to whole heartedly serve God, to do full bodied eucharisteo with the hands and the heart and the lips. I can count each task a gift, pure Eucharisteo. Grace! This work - the thousand endless jobs - they each give the opportunity for one to become the gift, a thousand times over! Because with every one of the thousand, endless jobs - I become the gift to God and to others because this work is the public God serving, the daily liturgy of thanks, the completing of communion service with my service.

  • the only thing to rip out the tape echoing self-rejection is the song of His serenade. One thousand gifts tuned me to the beat. It really is like C.S. Lewis argued: that the most  fundamental thing is not how we think of God but rather what God thinks of us: How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Years of Christian discipleship, Bible study, churchgoing had been about me thinking about God; practicing Eucharisteo was the very first time I had really considered at length what God thought of me - this ridiculous and relentlessly pursuing love, so bold. Everywhere, everything. Love!

  • God, He has blessed - caressed. I could bless God - caress with thanks. It's our making love... the intercourse of soul with God is the very climax of joy...we're called to do more than believe in God; we're called to live in God. To enter into Christ and Christ enter into us - to cohabit. Is this why it is His will for us to always give thanks in all things - the unbroken communion?
Food for thought huh?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pleasant Passover

(Grrr! Blogger didn't save the final version of this post - so here's ANOTHER one!)

This year we celebrated our first passover meal, in spite of my earlier post. It's made Easter this year more significant than any other year.

On Friday morning, the boys and I read the passover story. Their questions were so insightful. It's quite challenging as an adult getting your head around God hardening Pharaoh's heart, and even more so as a child, and understnading all the plagues! I kept trying to explain how Christ is our lamb and therefore our 'passover', something I'm sure they'll come to understand more and more.

We then spent some time colouring in pasover sheets that I found here (we only printed the three that were relevant to the passover elements we chose to incorporate. Interestingly, reading the different haggadahs made me realize how religious passover has come to be as well - it's not just Christianity that has become too religious for its own good):

We prepared a delicious passover meal, (try this recipe - add a small diced butternut and a diced sweet potato -  Taryn inspired me!). Belle helped me make it, but I think she somewhat misheard me when I asked for her to put one bay leaf in ...

this is her 'I know I've been naughty look'!
We then left it in the slowcooker and it was good!

We also prepared a seder plate, (Jolanthe has posted a free passover lapbook - click on seder plate and print  one out) which the boys used to help retell the passover story to Braveheart at the end of the day when we sat on the floor for our meal. It was truly a very special start to Easter.

On Saturday we tried se7en's hot cross buns, which was an experience in itself. Aragorn just wanted to smell the dough rather than eat it!

Today they celebrated Easter with their traditional egg hunt, and I'm pleased to repot we managed to get them to wait until it was light, and we made it before the rain!

the seekers...
forgive the blurry photo, someone wasn't really with it yet!

the finders!

And the afternoon was spent visiting family, we made these easter baskets as gifts (and used wool, not strips of material).

Happy easter to you and yours!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Eternal Perspective

Today, I happened to see my husband's boss - it was a quick, few seconds as we crossed paths in a place we usually never see each other. But God used those few moments to really challenge me... the journey Braveheart is on in the workplace, (and thus our family) has been rewarding, but is more often long, hard and frustrating. Together my husband, the creative genius and this man, the business titan, battle against financial difficulties,  personnel limitations, and entwined in all of that is their battle against Evil thwarting them (without wanting to get too super spiritual!).

But this man, let's call him Mr. P, keeps his head high. In the 10 years Braveheart has worked alongside him carrying this vision, Mr. P has maintained an 'eternal perspective' which has often made me curious. And today, God showed me the inner workings of that very idea. Our goal that we are working for - godly animated stories, live-action movies with substance and character - these very things might not be achieved in our lifetime. And neither may a lot of what we strive for.

The thing is - our lives truly are too short to carry our whole vision - and I'm not sure they are supposed to. God showed me today, that visions are supposed to span generations, they are supposed to be built on, generation after generation - that's the way his kingdom works. God blesses generation after generation that serve him, and he adds to our vision for each generation.

God drew it into perspective with my parenting and what I long for. I cannot hope to parent perfectly in my lifetime...BUT what I can do, by following God's leads, is to pass on something more for my kids to follow and live that in generations to come, my family can arise and be called blessed.

food for thought huh?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Books On My Bedside Table

The Elephant Whisperer: My Life with the Herd in the African WildThe Elephant Whisperer: This book is incredible - for anyone born in Africa and raised to appreciate the wild, or for those wishing to appreciate it. For me, it was a wonderful journey through the nostalgia of my childhood and the elephants of Kariba. The writing was superb - excellently crafted: the narrator was truly easy to follow. I'll be honest, there were a few chapters where I sobbed my heart out, and others that ended with true cliff hangers, and I'm not one for animal books! Lawrence Anthony is an talented man with a wonderful appreciation of the wild. After reading this, I'd like to one day visit Thula Thula Nature Reserve.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Again, a eye opening book. For someone who considers herself African, this book made me sit up a little straighter and realize just how much I bury my head in the sand. A heroic tale of a young rural boy who creates a windmill out of scrap to power his family's home and change their lifestyle. This is the essence of Africa and her people - people who rise up to make the most of their lives with what they have. The revelation for me was the famine in Malawi - how could I not have known? Not an easy read necessarily (I'll admit being bored every now and then), but still interesting and worth it.

The Count of Monte Cristo (Penguin Classics)
The Count of Monte Cristo: Braveheart watched the movie a while ago, and urged me to re-watch it again, but I declined. He then encouraged me to read it, and I'm glad I did. Dumas' epic tale is cunningly crafted, and just plain genius. Although it is a classic, I would strongly encourage you to read it, highly recommended and well worth it (many late nights reading as much as I could!).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Your To-Be List

I read this just tonight...and needed to. During these, oh-so-short holidays with all three children home with me, what is really important? May it speak to you too....


Ten years from now, it won't have mattered whether or not the sink was perfectly scrubbed.
Ten years from now it will have mattered that I stopped scrubbing the sink to listen to a problem they were having in school. 
Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that the plates were chipped or that the cups were not a matched set.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that we sat down at the table together, said a blessing, and shared stories about what happened that day.
Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that their books were scattered everywhere.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that they loved to read and did so in every corner of the house.
Ten years from now, it won't have mattered if they ran off to school with wrinkled shirts or grass stains on their pants.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that they were always told, "I love you. Have a great day!" as they dashed out the door - wrinkles, grass stains, and all.
Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that their beds were made haphazardly; that there were lumps under the covers and pillows left on the floor.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that I leaned over their rumpled beds, kissed them goodnight and assured them that even as they slept, they were loved.
Ten years from now . . .
Ten years from now it won't have mattered that the couch was threadbare.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that we sat on that couch and laughed until we cried – and that on that very same couch, I held them when they cried genuine tears of sadness.
Ten years from now, it won't have mattered if there were muddy footprints tracked through the house.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that they ran with abandon, filled their lungs with fresh air, and connected with the wonder of nature.
Ten years from now, it won’t have mattered if I won every argument.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that I lived my values.
Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that they didn't get everything they wanted.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered that their deepest needs were met.
Ten years from now, it won't have mattered that I wasn't a perfect parent.
Ten years from now, it will have mattered – and mattered deeply – that I was a present parent.
So today and every day, may I live in the moment with my children, with my eyes to their future. 
And let me offer my children the gift of what will have mattered in ten years.

- by Lauren Rosenfeld, M.A., M.Ed., Author of Your To Be List

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Pressure's Off!

Our first rainy day of winter. And I'm enjoying it. It's the first day I have sent my kids to school with shoes in a VERY long time, and Belle was not amused that she had socks on. I love that last winter was so long ago in her mind that she has forgotten completely what socks are and how they feel!

I had a revelation whilst driving the school route this morning. It was prompted by a conversation I had with a new friend last week. For the last 10 years, she and her husband and now family of 4 kids have not celebrated Easter or Christmas. For them, learning about the reasons behind all the present day traditions and celebrations led to feeling convicted not to partake in any of it, as when you really get down to it, it's mostly all pagan festivals we've kind of adopted as being the norm. So for them, they celebrate three festivals - Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Easter, and Christmas Day don't feature at all on their calendar. 

That conversation prompted something I recalled from 'God Grew Tired of Us' (heart wrenching title huh?) this profound documentary (a must see) on the orphaned boys from Sudan and
their travels, and the journey some of them made to America. The one man
(once boy) was interviewed at Christmas time in America, and his face 
painted a picture of a thousand words. He was utterly confused. 
He kept asking what this Christmas thing was, and why it was celebrated
like this, and what was with the Santa and the trees? The director than cut to a 
shot of how they celebrate it in the refugee camps - and the JOY, the pure 
joy was almost tangible.. No trappings. Nothing false - just real fellowship for a 
real reason.

And my revelation was this: if we CHOOSE see these times of year for what 
they really are - consumer driven festivals that happen to occur at set times each
year, then we can choose to celebrate the truth whenever we want throughout
the year. Why am I trying so hard to make these seasons so significant? Why not just live the truth all year round? I cannot tell you what a feeling of relief that brought me. I'm not going to spend hours researching how to make Easter meaningful, or print coloring in pages of tombstones rolling away or anything like that. I'm 
going to wait...and when I feel led, we'll talk about the birth of Christ, or his death in our normal daily lives.

I'm not sure we're about to embark on anything quite as radical as not celebrating it altogether, as there are things within these seasons that I love, but it's certainly given me much to dwell on.

Food for thought huh?

Friday, March 25, 2011

Meaning of Motherhood

(In spite of me still deciding, I just had to write....)

Picture three small wet and cold bodies. And one wet and cold mum. One wet and cold mom trying to dress said cold bodies. Four people rather chilly after swimming in a pool for 40 minutes. And one wet and cold mom that knows she cannot get warm herself as she must, after dressing said cold and wet bodies, get back into the pool for her exercise (as the feet, well, you know the story).

And you have a very disgruntled mum.

A mum who suddenly realized - Hang on a minute, I'm not enjoying this.

And then He spoke...these things to my heart.

He asked me if I'd be willing to lay down a little more of my life (note, my life...the life I think belongs to me. Whose life is it anyway?). And inwardly, I groaned. What Lord? More? Really?

And as I listened, I heard. I understood (scratch that, I'm understanding!).

Motherhood? It's about self sacrificing. It's about laying down one's life over and over again. Time and Time again we're called to let go... and I think it's just one of those seasons again as activities are on the increase and my afternoons are no longer 'mine' to call my own.

It's about dying to self.

It's about serving. Didn't like it much when He showed me I'm really not much of a server at heart. Na-ah. Not my cup of tea...but I sure like to be served. Sobering really.

And it's about choosing to see the beauty in the here and now, in the snapshot of what you see. Why do I want more time? For what? (See my earlier post). And, again He solidifies what I read a few days ago...

I fill the sink with the circle of bowl, and batter floats up in suds. I wash. I see my reflection in the stainless of the tap. I know you, those seeking eyes. You're the one in dire need of time, that thing we can't buy, what we sell of ourselves to get more of what we think we want, what we sacrifice to seemingly gain. They say time is money, but that's not true. Time is life. And if I want the fullest life, I need to find fullest time. I wipe a water spot off the tap; there's a reflection of me. Oh yes, I know you, the busyness of your life leaving little room for the source of your life. I'm the face grieving.
God gives us time. And who has time for God?
Which makes no sense.
In Christ, don't we have everlasting existence? Don't Christians have all the time in eternity, life everlasting? If Christians run out of time - wouldn't we have lost our very existence? If anyone should have time, isn't it the Christ-followers?....
...a question once asked of a pastor haunts through the rows of headstones and I hear it sure again. What was the pastor's most profound regret in life?....Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I've ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing...Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away....
In our rushing, bulls in china shops, we break our own lives.
Haste makes waste.... and I hear this too, words of another woman seeking: "On every level of life, from housework to heights of prayer, in all judgement and efforts to get things done, hurry and impatience are sure the marks of an amateur".
In a world addicted to speed, I blur the moments into one unholy smear. I have done it. I do it still. Hands of the clock whip hard. So I push hard and I bark hard and I fall hard and when their wide eyes brim sadness and their chins tremble weak, I am weary and I am the thin clear skin, reflecting their fatigue, about to burst, my eyes glistening with their same sheer pain.
The hurry makes us hurt.
And maybe it's the hurt that drives us on?...
Hurry always empties a soul....
I speak to God: I don't really want more time; I just want enough time. Time to breath deep and time to see real and time to laugh long and time to give You glory, and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven or wild to get it all done - yesterday.... in the beep and blink of the twenty first century with its "live in the moment" buzz phrase that none of the whirl-weary seem to know how to do, who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync?
362. Suds...all the color of the sun. 
That's my answer to time. Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time's swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. I can slow the torrent by being all here. I only live full when I live fully in the moment. And when I'm always looking for the next glimpse of glory, I slow and enter. And time slows....This is where God is. In the present. I AM - his very name.
                                             (Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts)

 And these precious lives -  mine to mold and shape and change and imprint on for ever? Do I see them as a heritage or a possession? Can I come to a place where I take the time to see them as the object, the purpose of my day...instead of the endless list of tasks and activities that are not, and cannot be, in a relationship with me?

My goals, my day, sometimes overshadow the little people in my day. Knowing I have to squeeze an extra two swimming lessons in my week for Aragorn who has an aversion to proper swimming lessons means I have to create time ... and honestly? Knowing this at 0800 each day fills me with something akin to stress: when am I going to pack their lunch, how to fit in school before picking up Belle, Belle missing her nap, fitting in things after this etc. You get the picture. But still. BUT STILL. Those are not good enough excuses.

This motherhood thing? It's daily lessons in servanthood.

O God.

holy experience

go on over and check this out - for busy moms....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Desired Direction

The silence is because I desire direction.

I have loved writing this blog. But I am aware that to me, it feels like I have lost focus.

What is the point of this blog? Am I blurring the lines between deep personal feelings, social commentary, and sharing my family life with far flung friends?

Can this blog tie all these strands together, or do I need to let some fly free?

Time will tell....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Raw Relief

A short, sharp season of being visited by family is over.

And I breath a sigh of relief....

And yet I am left feeling raw.

How is it possible that flesh of my flesh and blood of my blood can leave me feeling so undone?

How is it possible that the woman who gave birth to me can seem to dislike me so much

...and that conversely I can have so little grace for her?

This relationship - this mother daughter bond - is supposed to be something so much more.

Something sacred.

Somthing intimate.

Something safe.

What is it about this world, that some have this remarkable relationship intact?

And that for some, all too often, this relationship is the one that has fractured?

God, give me your grace for Belle. Do something NEW in me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book on my Bedside Table

Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" (she's the author of the blog entitled 'A Holy Experience'), is the book on my bedside table at the moment that is arresting me, chapter by chapter. Here's an excerpt from Chapter Two that I can just so relate to. May it pierce you as it did me.....

For years of mornings, I have woken wanting to die. Life itself twists into nightmares. For years, I have pulled the covers up over my head, dreading to begin another day I'd be bound to just wreck. Years, I lie listening to the taunt of names ringing off my interior walls, ones form the past that never drifted far and away: Loser. Mess. Failure. They are the signs nailed overhead, nailed through me, naming me. The stars blinking are blinking out.
    Funny, this. Yesterday morning, and the morning before, all these mornings, I wake to the discontent of life in my own skin. I wake to self-hatred. To the wrestle to get it all done, the relentless anxiety that I am failing. Always the failing. I yell at children, fester with bitterness, forget doctor appointments, lose library books, live selfishly, skip prayer, complain, go to bed too late, neglect cleaning the toilets. I live tired. Afraid. Anxious. Weary. Years, I feel it in the veins, the pulsing of ruptured hopes. Would I ever be enough, find enough, do enough? But this morning, I wake wildly wanting to live. Physically feeling it in the veins trembling, the hard part of the lungs, the seing it in the steady starts, how much I really want to live. How I don't want to die. Is that the message of the nightmares and dreams? To live fully alive ...or in empty nothingness?
It's the in between that drives us mad. (emphasis mine)
It's the life in between, the days of walking lifeless, the years calloused and simply going through the hollow motions, the self-protecting by self-distracting, the body never waking, that's lost capacity to fully feel - this si the life in between that makes is the wild walking dead.
The sun climbs the horizon, I throw back the covers, take another breath, and begin. I get to live. I get to live....

Which road through this brief land? What is all most important? How to live the fullest life here that delivers into the full life ever after?...

.How does one live ready, and always? Yes, ultimately Jesus. Yes, this premature dying to self, birthing into the cross-life, the grace cocoon, before emerging into the life unending. Without this Jesus, no, no one can be ready. ... 

But, someone, please give me - who is born again but still so much in need of being born anew - give me the details of how to live in the waiting cocoon before the forever begins? ...

In my reality-dream (dream-reality?), I gasp for more time, frantic for more time. But I have to wonder:more time for more what? The answer  to that determines the road these so-short days take. ....
 Food for thought huh?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The "Day" is Done!

I did it.

I started. I rode. I finished!

I just put my head down and cycled.....

and surprisingly, I crossed the finish line with a better time than last year! 5 hours 20, with a good few stops to ease some very tired muscles and a cramping sore foot.

But you know what struck me most about this Argus? The three men I sore who were riding with one leg - their other leg did not exist, instead they had a prosthetic. Incredible. These men who have risen above their circumstances to continue normal lives. They humbled me. They inspired me.

And to be honest? I am so glad this year's Argus is behind me. Now onto fully recovered feet!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Amazing Grace

A friend shared this blog with me (thanks M!), and I am loving the challenge. Particularly as it fits in with my lessons about grace, and my longing to parent in a grace filled way. This post really spoke to me, and here are some excerpts - to see more, go over to Practical Theology for Women

“When you give back what is earned or deserved, it is not charis—it is not grace. It is not favor or benefit, and it is not credited toward you as anything other than exactly what you are expected to do. Instead, grace does what is unexpected, undeserved, and out of line with reasonable responses. Grace is an unreasonable response—unreasonably good, but unreasonable nonetheless. When we give grace, this undeserved favor that does good to enemies and lends expecting nothing in return, then we give evidence of our relationship with our Father in heaven, because this is his calling card. He is kind to the ungrateful and evil. He is full of grace.”

I think, “Really?! I'm supposed to treat my children as I want them to be not as they actually are acting right now? I get that I'm not supposed to give an unreasonably bad response. But what about a reasonably bad response? Shouldn't they get what they deserve for acting out? But God says instead I'm supposed to give an unreasonably GOOD response. What does that even look like? And why doesn't that make my children's sin increase?!” 
Here is my suspicion--if I really treat my children with grace instead of punishment, they will sin more. It's not natural for me to envision a scenario in which a grace filled response to them in their sin and failure actually helps them overcome their sin. First, I have a mistaken perception of what grace looks like. Grace doesn't mean simply being polite or diplomatic. And most of all, grace doesn't suggest we ignore sin. In fact, grace is meaningless apart from a stark understanding of the sin in question. Grace engages over the sin. But not with punishment. Grace is what moves us from returning evil for evil with punitive measures (a hit for a hit) to returning evil with good by discipling their hearts and training them in new ways to respond to their own issues. 
Second, I am suspicious of grace because I have a shortsighted view of the future. I think if my children don't immediately change their behavior the moment I engage them over their sin issue, I have failed. If I don't reactively punish them, I think they'll abuse my grace. And maybe tomorrow, they will. But God's view for them extends well past tomorrow. It is of eternity. Every adult Christian friend of mine who gives positive testimony of a parent universally tells me of how their parents ENDURED with them through their hard seasons and how that perseverance drew them to repentance. 
The techniques we teach for child rearing are as good an indicator of our understanding of gospel grace as anything. It is interesting how reformed Christian teachers and parents who really should know better still embrace the very techniques that God called ineffective at transformation—law, punishment, and penance—and disdain or mock (as did the author in question) the methods our Father in heaven embraces in His plan for His children—a wooing with grace and kindness that draws us to repentance. We do this because we really don't believe Biblical grace works. We have for the most part graduated from a performance based Christian parenting model to a heart based Christian parenting model. Almost everyone in my Christian circles (which are varied) over the last decade or so has gotten that external conformity apart from internal heart change is of no value. But we still often attempt to change the HEART by external pressure. Through guilt, manipulation, or shame. “Look at ALL God has done for you! Why don't you love Him? Why aren't you obeying Him? He's so wonderful and you're just a worm. Your heart is wicked.” We're trying to get to our kids' heart, but we're using the same old tactics legalists use to change externals. Guilt. Shame. Manipulation. 
If you feel threatened by what you view of as grace based libertarianism (which actually is a meaningless term), it's likely because you don't really believe that grace works and that it's what is required by you. If that's the case, go reread Luke 6 and ask yourself if it's relevant to your children. But even if you are convicted that you do need to parent with grace (as I am), it doesn't mean you do it consistently in the moment. 
Perhaps you simply failed in the moment. You very much wanted to patiently disciple your children in the direction that God is taking them, but instead you got angry at where they were in the moment. I'm there on a regular basis. I am learning that the gospel equips me to deal with this without shame or condemnation. I face it and correct it.  And I have hope that this response won't always characterize me. 
Maybe you did it right, and it still fell apart. Or there wasn't any perceptable change at all. You're not sure if your reactions were right or wrong, and you see no noticeable good results one way or the other. What is the point of responding patiently in grace if it doesn't fix the problem immediately? God's long term view for His children equips you to deal with this without bitterness or the loss of hope. The gospel gifts you with perseverance and confidence in the eternal results. 

Food for thought huh?

Thursday, March 10, 2011


Oh yes people. It's less than 5 days away. 30 000 mad cyclists riding around the Cape peninsula in the largest timed event in the world. 109km.

Oh yes.

And my feet are still sore...It has been a challenge getting back on my bike after being banned from it for a few weeks. The good news is the agonising pain is gone. The bad news? My inserts are uncomfortable (but worth it if the pain is kept at bay) and my feet are still badly bruised and will take a long time to heal fully. My stamina is pretty non existent, and I am trying my hardest to get my head around the fact that I need to have very different expectations of this year's Argus.

It cannot be a race for me. It can only be a Tour. A sightseeing ride along with a  lot of people. I may not even finish if the feet don't hold out. Sigh. Having a real hard time adjusting to those expectations!

But I cannot not start. I have worked too hard for this. Suffered (!) too much....

Sunday, here I come....

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A challenging conversation...

Last week I faced my first 'disapproving' conversation as a homeschooling mother (of one), from a family member.

I did not respond well, at all, sad to say. Indeed I did not respond at all, I reacted.

And as a result I have been stewing for a few days, and am learning some really hard lessons.

This homeschooling journey is different, and goes against what is considered normal for many people, but especially the older generation. I think my friends and colleagues, and those people that live in the same town as me can understand it more, because it is all around us here - it is a viable and somewhat common, if not popular educational choice for our children.

But for an older generation...I need to have grace. And I have been challenged: In disagreements, others are entitled to their opinion, which does not need to affect me. That takes some maturity!

Secondly, the challenge is to guard the relationship from fracturing during this period of seeing things differently. I've been reading a book on Bono from U2 recently, and with all his Aid work he comments that you don't always have to see eye to eye to get along. Truth.

Isn't this always the hard part? Responding with love, not reacting with anger, hurt or even spite....

Grace and Love.

Food for thought huh?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Over the last few days I have been so conscious of being crippled and paralyzed by fear....

Fear does that to all of us.

It inhibits us from being ALL that we were called to be.

It strips us of our true identity...

And leaves us quaking in the wings of life.

I know this, because I'm living it.

And so I asked God - what is it about this Fear? From where does it stem?

And for me, the fear that leaves me breathless, strangled for air and all panicky, comes from comparing my self to others. All my fear comes from looking at who others are, what they do, how they live...and then feeling that I don't have it all/do it all etc.

There's a reason God originally gave a command imploring us not to covet...not to look at what our neigbour has and want tit too, (and I take the liberty for that to mean more than just material things).

And this fear prevents me from hearing the truth my friends are speaking, and in part I recognize them bringing me words straight from the throne. Truth that offers me life and hope. Friends, if there's one thing we do as parents, let it be that we train our children even now, to be able to hear and listen to the truth, and put away this fear. Learning it at 30+ is just hard work!

And the other things I fear? The completely irrational daydreams I have that involve things like "What if's" etc...that unfounded fear is a result of letting my thoughts wander around unchecked.

So the answer? I'm not entirely sure. But I am greatly encouraged by this:
7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (2Ti 1:17, Amplified)

Food for thought huh?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Fruit of my Labour

Today has been an uplifting and oddly sobering day...

I have spent the afternoon dwelling on how deeply thankful I am that I am disciplining my children the way I am.

I know I don't always do it the right way, and I may not always say the right thing....but when you see the fruit in your children's lives: the life, the hope, the affirmation they get from knowing that you are disciplining them out of love...then it is well worth it. I am so thankful that healthy, involved, hands on parenting was modeled to me and that I started shaping and molding them early...because again, the benefits are just so worth it. All the days of consistency, the perseverance in repeating the same thing over and over, the patience, the tears....IT ALL PAYS OFF...eventually. And today, I saw a glimmer of that. A bright shining shimmering ray of hope.

And that glimmer makes me want to help other women who seem to be in the darkness, who admit to me with tears and gut wrenching sobs that they don't know how to do this. As mothers, we all need tools. We need to share with one another and carry one another. How is it that in mothering, we can too often be locked into our own silent cells?

And this old pupil of mine from my teaching days in Zimbabwe came to have dinner with us. Again, fruit of my labour - two years of inspiring this student whilst teaching her about geography has led her to be doing the most amazing work with the WWF (and no, not the wrestling acronym!) now. She has au paired in America, and pays me compliments on my children (what every mother loves to hear). But as I chat with her my heart is hear how much I played a role in her life and yet how distanced and hurt she is from  her parents. My heart is heavy with prayers of hope, and of healing.

And again I am struck. This mantle of parenting is no easy task. But it is, beyond a shadow of doubt, the most important one...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pools, Parenting and Pointers

This afternoon has been one of those times when you remember parenting sure isn't for cowards!  I have also been reassured that real parenting, the parenting that lasts, takes time, consistency and sticking to your guns.

As my feet are still healing, today at gyn was just pure swimming for me with the kids. Swimming lessons are paying off and they are like fish, embracing the water and the freedom it brings. Aragorn took off his arm bands and swum all on his own - to tell you I was proud would be an understatement.

Sadly, I had climbed out the pool to phone Braveheart who works fairly close by (bags and towels are right there), to see if he could come and watch Aragorn's miracle, when on turning around, I saw him pushing his sister under...and keeping her there.

I charged in, rescued and settled Belle, and then started the parenting bit, in full view of endless other parents. He had done this once before, so this time I was not messing about. I calmly gave him the price of his actions, the consequnece: I banned him from swimming for the rest of the afternoon. For him (and understandably) his little heart was broken. And that's when it started to spiral out of control - his geuine sobs turned into a full blown angry tantrum where listening to mom was not an option.

So me? What did I do? I whipped out some tools I'd learnt a while back. I acknowledged his feelings, and how frustrating it must be to have to stop swimming; I reminded him of the reason he had to stop swimming...and then I gave him a choice. he could continue to cry (in the change room) or stay in the swimming room quietly. Sadly he did not choose, and so I chose one of the optins for him.In our family, failing to listen, or showing disrespect is dealt with quite severely.  (I've seen too many boys grow up to be teenagers who don't respect their mothers, and I  strongly believe that we are preparing for adolescence now....right now, we are cultivating the attitudes that will stay them for the course of their lives.) Any how, after a good 20 minutes or so, the waters were calm.

A lady came up to me at this point, and spoke such life to me - she complimented me on sticking to my guns, and being consistent, and making sure the lesson had been learnt (it's not like anyone could miss the screaming kicking drama in the corner of the pool!). She said she had never seen such thorough parenting (she's now a granny), and was so encouraged to see parenting can builds character and where children learn consequneces. I could have kissed her, I needed that after being in the war  - she may very well have been an angel!

And to top off the afternoon, just a little later, I took Belle to the toilet, and I left King Arthur with strict instrucitons to stay on the step. Sadly on my return I found him playing in the pool as well - and so he also had to face a concesquence for not listening to me. We spoke a lot about our relationship, and trusting one another, and what happens when that is broken.

And that got me thinking about the conversation we're going to have at dinner tonight - about instructions and our responses to them, about choices and consequences. This is what our children need to be taught - that every action, every thought, in deed EVERYTHING we do has a consequence - if we listen or not, if we learn or not, if we apply ourselves or not, if we are kind, or not...think on anything - it's the pure truth. How are we training our children to learn to make wise choices, and to face their consequences?

Food for thought huh?

Monday, February 21, 2011

Creative Co-Ops

I think I should just plain give up on the attempted apologies for my tardy posts.....ahem!

There is so much to share....but right now I shall attempt to catch you all up on some wonderful Fridays in our home.

Last year it felt like I was an honorary member of a co-op - I didn't really do much in that group as my two eldest were still in school, but this year with King Arthur 'officially' being schooled at home, we are now active participants! I've given Belle and Aragorn the day off school on Fridays, as I just didn't want them to miss out on the fun or relationships: and they're beginning to get used to the other children and form some special friends.

Each week, 5 other families join us and so far we have had fun times at someone's house, and an outing to a farm and a cheese factory - I'll let the photos speak for themselves.

This co-op kick started the year at Cm's house.
Laid back and for of creative flair -
my kids enjoyed making the flying bean bag toys the most!

Co-Op #4 (excuse blogger!) - outing to the cheese factory. My boys hated the factory
but loved the goats and playing with their friends afterwards!

Co-Op #2 - outing to a rural laid back farm in Noordhoek!
Didn't even know one existed! So lovely to let my boys see a farm
first hand - and Belle LOVED the cows!

Co op #3 at dear S's house - we made out own butter from cream,
as one would on the farm! My I learnt something I never knew how to do!
The kids highlight was making their own books about their farm visit and
eating lunch with friends.

Suffice to say, this little group really is worth its weight in gold, and the moms are awesome. Without a support network like this, homeschooling has the potential to ab a lonely and daunting road. I am SO thankful I have these women beside me on this road...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Homeschool Helps

King Arthur and I are having a blast having just learnt about Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

What follows is a list of sites we have loved on the the internet - many of which have an interactive element and are just plain fun, even if your kids aren't learning about this stuff.

Hope you find it useful! - this is the Birmingham Museum site - King Arthur enjoyed the printable activities and dressing up the Roman soldier! - love the BBC and the input they give to children's education. This site is just great - again, King Arthur loves doing the archaeological dig for Roman Artifacts - we're hoping to make some food from ancient recipes here!

And I got a little carried away on Egypt!

A whole unit of work -

Love these coloring in pages -

A great site with basic elementary style info on heiroglyphics

A site with a great many links on Ancient Egypt

Great site with all the heiroglyphics linked to our alphabet with templates

excellent lapbook for slightly older children

A great general sharing site – Homeschol Share, but specifically some stuff on Egypt

 Egyptian Craft ideas: make a pyramid -

Mazes - 


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A quiet oasis

In the last few days I have stumbled across a rare gem.

 And I share it here, in the hopes that you will travel over, stay a while, and catch something beautiful that will refresh you.

holy experience

And these two posts....they speak VOLUMES...
on joyful mothering,
and on homeschooling.

Hurry is the death of prayer - Samuel Chadwick

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Being Kneaded

My heart has stilled over the last few days.

And I have been tenderly kneaded by my Maker.

I have been made to pause, to see things anew, afresh.

And my heart has leapt. This feeling of him kneading me, molding and shaping and changing me..

....sends tingles down my spine.

It makes me sprout tears. And gut wrenching sobs.

It challenges me to be all that I can be. All that he's made me to be. Simply by letting him do the work.

He has stopped me. Held me. Lovingly shown me that there is actually a different way of living. A life of grace so much deeper than anything I am used to.

A life that measures my children as immeasurable gifts.
A life where joy is important, and sadly too far forgotten in my life.
A life where delight carries weight.
A life where hurry plays no part.

My heart has found its way to a quiet oasis.

And I am inspired.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Homeschool - Truth or Dare?

It is 6am on a Saturday morning, and I am not in bed, and I am not on the road, but sitting on my new couch (yipee!) writing.

I am not in bed because some strange voice over the wall woke me up - just weird. And sometimes, when I'm awake, I'm awake. No going back to sleep for me.

I am not on the road as Braveheart desperately wanted a sleep in, and my foot problem has taken a few steps back. Cutting the shoes did nothing. The pain has diminished on the balls of my feet, but those inserts made the rest of the shoe too small which caused the sides of my feet to be in agony! However, I am now the very VERY grateful owner of a pair of Body Geometry cycling shoes, and again, have met an amazing cycling shoe specialist. I am eagerly yet nervously anticipating a ride, as this investment had better work....

These weeks are passing in a blur and it's just no good blogging in my head (thanks M for my nudge :)).

Homeschool. This journey we have embarked on is going to change me more than anything else, I suspect. So far, I have realized that it is time to re-prioritize things. For example, being the task focused, product vs process, achievement orientated person I am, I am realizing that all of that must come second to my relationship with my children. Inverting that order almost seems unnatural to me, but it is the path of life. It is more important to honor, respect and develop a relationship with each of my children than it is for me to get somewhere on time, or be able to tick off all that we have done in a day.

Secondly, my teaching background is not necessarily an advantage. It is TOO easy for me to recreate school at home, and forget that homeschooling is more about the HOME in schooling. So it's just as important for King Arthur to bake with me, or be exposed to the drudgery of chores or the monotony of errands as it is for him to do seat work, etc. I need to relax a lot more, and allow for inspiration to over take me. Being handed a curriculum that is spelled out for me, rather than a framework where I have to make individual lessons also means I can be lazy, and see Sonlight's way of doing it as something to achieve, rather than allow my natural bent to take over. I've just started tutoring again (?!), and find myself able to make those lessons inspiring and creative, whereas King Arthur's are pretty mundane. I'm learning to see his education as something fluid, not set in stone.

I am spread thin. Getting Aragorn and Belle to school is the most stressful part of my day. The round trip takes me about 45 minutes, and then within about 3 hours I do it all again! And there are two things at work here:

  • I feel the pressure to get King Arthur's work done when they are at school so that I can enjoy Aragorn and Belle when they return from school
  • I have seen that I do not yet posses enough grace to have them at home with me. They've been sick this past week, and trying to do school with them at home is just ... frankly impossible. I know it was the exception and they were sick, and I am in sure in normal circumstances I would find a rhythm, I am sure I would learn, but right now, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God knew what he was doing - he's easing me into it, one child at a time!
OK. So that's me. Now onto King Arthur. He is doing so well, and is somewhat so content ( I say that because there are some grumbles about it being boring, or about having to do the same things every day (red flag to self - change something!!!!! Spice things up a bit!). Not once has he mentioned friends, or missing them, or wanting to be at school. Sure, I've organised a few play dates, and we have co-op, but he is happy. I can see him just soaking up all this time that he has with me.

reading to his brother and sister
(on the OLD couch!!!!!)

doing maths whilst baking
feel-good muffins

Singapore maths blocks

Ancient Egypt - lego pyramids and
Egyptian collars

Measuring weights on a homemade scale

Sonlight is delivering every one of its promises. He loves listening to the stories, and there are certain aspects (the doing parts) he loves more than others. His boredom with some of the phonics and Maths was because it was just too basic for him, so in his reading program I have jumped him ahead 10 weeks. The beauty of homeschooling - a tailor made education! I've yet to figure out exactly where to peg him in Maths without missing any foundational concepts, but again - such freedom. Were he in school, he would be so bored waiting for the rest of the children to catch up.

A friend calls them "A-ha" moments, and I love getting to be alongside him whilst he learns, watching that proverbial light bulb go on. I am enjoying my learning moments too, although they are a lot more challenging than I thought they would be!

Kids are awake - enjoy the weekend all!