Monday, January 31, 2011


A friend sent me this lovely story this week and although it's a little cliche, God used it to re-illustrated something he'd been showing me:

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

'That laundry is not very clean,' she said. 'She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.'

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband: 'Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this.'

Her husband said, 'I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.'

And so it is with life.

It's so true.

 "What we see when watching others depends on the window through which we look."

God has been reminding me that so much of the way I speak or act is framed by my own experience, my own way of filtering the world. Friends, the way you and I think, the way we feel, the way in which we hear things or interpret things is based on so many things, that the only real answer is to give one another grace...

It's true of marriage too. The way your spouse hears what you say may have nothing to do with what you actually said - but if his filter is one of condemnation, then that is what he will hear. If hers is one of low self esteem, everything will seem like a criticism. It may explain why someone you know always shies away from you. It may explain sudden outbursts of anger with an in-law.

It's true even of sex. I love the illustration given in Sheet Music (I reviewed it a while ago). Dr. Kevin Leman says the marriage bed is the most crowded one of all. Because it's not just you and your spouse, but your parents and your spouse's parents - and those 6 individuals all see sex differently, all see marriage differently, and all have their own set of spoken and unspoken rules.

So how then do we live?

Surely only in Christ - with his eyes for one another, with the Spirit being our lens.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Month End Musings

I've started this post a number of times now, and keep deleting it. The problem? I write endless posts in my head, days pass, and then by the time my fingers start tapping at this keyboard the inspiration behind those posts has dulled, and I'm left not really knowing how to connect with my writing spirit again!

Solution? Make a more pointed habit of writing when I feel prompted too.

So this post is an accumulation of many things, or if you will, a rambling of nothings ....

  1. Homeschooling has got off to a flying start. I recognize the mistakes I made that first week: trying to cover too much. There's a reason they (Sonlight) give you an Instructor's Guide, and there's a reason they tell you to read x number of pages a day- because they have tried it, tested it, and found what works! So King Arthur and I are settling into a rhythm, and he's soaking up everything I send his way. I still need to overcome my uncertainty about his pace, but that too will come.
  2. I've joined a wonderful co-op (basically a playgroup for want of a better description), that meets once a week at a different person's house to socialize/do activities with the kids. I am looking forward to getting to know these women more, and for our children to develop friendships.
  3. Braveheart and I managed to get away this last weekend, and it was good for my soul, although our expectations weren't quite met by the place we stayed at. We've learnt a lot about the type of people we are - when it's just the two of us away for a special weekend, we like to be spoilt quite frankly! Not excessively, but just not mismatched furniture and smelly sheets!
  4. God used the time away to speak to me about my tone (again) with the kids, and to remind me that although it wasn't modeled to me, a mother is called to be a nurturer. And I look forward to him making me softer towards them...
  5. I have a serious foot problem, to the extent that my feet were excruciatingly sore in a spinning class last week and I thought I might throw up. It feels like I am walking on my bare bones. And when I ride on the road, I can feel every stone I ride over through my cleats...truly. I have since chatted to a physio friend, worn my trainers incessantly which has dulled the pain, and am seeing a podiatrist this week at the Sports Science Institute. I suspect (and hope) the culprits are my riding shoes and nothing more serious. Days are moving swiftly towards March 13th people. SWIFTLY. 
  6. My breakfast eating plan went well this month, with very little grumbling I am pleased to report. So now I'm wondering what to add on for February - should it be veggies (we eat salad with every evening meal, but very little veggies) or combining food well? Time to commit methinks.
  7. And I may be tutoring some Shakespeare this year - woohooo!!!! Bring it on!
And  now my heart is feeling prompted with weightier things to write, so I shall end off this drivel and draft some posts to follow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Finding our Feet

This week has begun well. Aragorn began his adventure of the year this morning, and seems to be confidently ready for the newness of his school....

his initial pose

coaxing a smile out of him

King Arthur and I are figuring out what works, when to do it all, how to do it, and that overwhelming feeling from last week is firmly in check. I am confident that in a few months I will look back and laugh at this period, but for now, I am allowing myself to figure it out slowly! There are pockets of time I need to use wisely...

I must say that already I can see the power behind homeschooling: the endless time I now have with King Arthur. By that I mean the opportunity I have to speak into his life and to teach him  little nuggets of truth - time I would be hard pressed to find if he wasn't at home with me, (although I have no doubt that these moments can be made with effort if mainstreamed schooling is a choice).

And I will say this - although I found last week somewhat stressful trying to teach and have my little ones around, I also saw how powerful that time can be. There are endless opportunities to teach them to get on with one another, to share, to love, to honor each other. There are endless opportunities where I could see that my heart needed to change, times I saw how supremely selfish I was being, and how much I need Christ....but, on the other hand, it si so peaceful just having one child at home to teach!

Just an interesting observation for me who has one foot on either side of the fence!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Soul Food

This afternoon I was refreshed, and rejuvenated.

Beauty sank deep into my soul.

Joy filled my spirit.

And the thirst for time like this, the deep craving within me the last few weeks has been filled.

We spent the afternoon, soaking in the sun, catching fish, spending quality time with one another, the children and I at Silvermine.

King Arthur trying to catch a fish
(got to love his net!)

Belle swimming her heart out!
The water was LOVELY, I even swam.

My golden hearted boy, feeding the ducks
the fish bait as they looked hungry!

This is the stuff childhoods are made of.

Sweet, sweet time...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Day One Done!

Here I am at the end of the day, with a dawning realization that anyone who homeschools is a saint!

We began with a really special time as a family, talking again to King Arthur about why we believe this is the right road for us to be on, and me sharing some things that God had laid on my heart for him - he responded so well, and again, was just SO eager to get started.

The reality? A day full of challenges. Firstly, trying to meet King Arthur's expectations. I'll need to examine what mine were/are. Secondly, juggling Aragorn and Belle. To you women who do this from scratch - well I take my hat off to you all! I am so glad I made up some play dough yesterday - Belle just got stuck in, and then ahem, I had to remove the play dough from the walls!

just so cute!

Third challenge? Honoring King Arthur's heart - he didn't want anyone else to listen/look/do  'his' homeschooling books (despite me trying to explain they were for us a family!). Aragorn has just been gorgeous and as warmed my heart. All he wanted to do this morning when we started was pass all the books to King Arthur, and then watch him do homeschooling! Lucky for me, I remembered I had an old math activity book at his level, which I pulled out. And all Aragorn's done all day is Maths!

Challenge Number 4 - where does King Arthur fit in exactly? With some things, King Arthur is much more advanced than this program (like with his letter recognition) but will need a slower pace else where (like handwriting!). Despite his enthusiasm of the day, at dinner he said his day had been boring {cringe}, so there's certainly room for improvement and space for us both to grow. O Lord!

I selected just three four things to do today, and made a ladder, each rung representing one of the subjects we can cover. I let him choose the order of what we did today which was interesting too.

We also interspersed the day with fun - a picnic walk mid morning (complete with brain food!), jumping on the trampoline and an afternoon tea party, that Belle hosted for us - loved watching her use a tea pot!

As I sign off, I'm trying to hang on tightly to my 'feelings'of yesterday, and look forward to us all finding our rhythm and pace in this journey....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tomorrow's the Day!

This is the conversation I overheard as I walked down the passage tonight as the boys were settling in their beds.

King Arthur: I'm so excited. Tomorrow is my special day!
Aragorn: Why? Is it because of homeschooling?
KA: Yes. I can't wait. I'm so excited I'm going to do homeschooling as soon as I wake up.
A: Oh. (clearly a bit puzzled by his brother's enthusiasm)
KA: EC (a friend of his) has already started school, and I've had to wait. But tomorrow's the day! I don't think I can sleep...

And then the conversation degenerated! But I cannot tell you what a gift overhearing that conversation was to me, just to know how much enthusiasm is in my little boy's heart. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have made the right choice for him.

The beginning of this journey has been interesting for me. Last week I was convinced that my children would all start school tomorrow, the 19th of January. But on Monday, I made some calls and realised that Belle only starts on Thursday, and Aragorn next week Monday (24th)! And this after I'd been counting down the days with King Arthur in "sleeps to go".  I knew I could not deny him another few days, it would break him. His natural curiosity is full blown and he is more than ready to actually LEARN something. Madly i had to re-shuffle my expectations of the week, and the way in which I had envisaged starting teaching him.

But true to form, whilst spinning this evening God spoke: I really believe this is the best way forward now, because I see that this staggered start is great - each of them gets a special day to start their journeys this year - and we will pray and bless them on their INDIVIDUAL respective mornings. And Elijah gets to start this journey with his siblings around so that he doesn't notice the huge shift to having no class mates. Each way I look at it, I see His hand and this is perfect.

And I'm choosing to see me not being as prepared as I wanted to as part of his Hand in this as well - I need to relax!!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Magnificent Morning

I went for a 80km ride this morning, alongside PPA's Cape Cobra race, and it was so good to be on the road again, but tough! It was a beautiful morning, no breeze to begin with, crystal clear air, stunning scenery, some baboons and a dead porcupine (who would have thought you could see such 'wildlife' on a Cape Town ride!).

I've just finished reading a guide to the Tour de France and one of the authors commented that before you can see or hear the peloton, you can often smell them. I tested that theory today - and it's true. They smell, these men who race past me averaging 35 - 40km/hr!! It was refreshing every now and again to catch a whiff of deodorant!

I know some of you have entered the Argus for the first time this year, and some of you further afield are riding races mid year, so want a female cycling tip? Put a few drops of Arnica massage oil in the seat of your riding shorts and you will not suffer. Trust me - today I forgot, and 80km is a loooong way!

As I was cycling today, I rode past Ocean View and Masiphumele (a colored and black township respectively). And as I strained up a hill, there were four colored kids sitting on a rock, watching the action. And my heart sank. There were no adults in sight, and these kids were young - probably all about Aragorn and Belle's age (4 and 2). God used this brief  moment to challenge me for the rest of my ride....

 We are so very privileged in ways we aren't even aware of. I know a couple of ladies from Ocean View and the one repetitive comment they make to me is how differently white and colored people parent. It's all about life skills isn't it? The majority of these families are trapped in cycles of violence and abuse. Parenting is about what is modeled to us, what we see from our parents and what we pick up along the way.  No one I know would let their young kids sit on the side of a major road at 0700 in the morning, unsupervised. But for these kids? It's a way of life. And it struck me that all of this also tracks back to the destruction of community - we should be able to learn each other's strengths - but because of Africa''s history, and more specifically South Africa's, it's all been lost.

And God spoke to me about what I write about working mothers - what choice do many of these township women have? I mean really? Some mothers have to work because their money is squandered before it even reaches the grocery cupboards. Others may work to escape oppressive home situations.

I do believe parenting is on God's heart. I do believe the world is intent on brow beating women into believing motherhood has no worth. I believe it is a forgotten calling in today's world, tossed to the side in exchange for luxuries...but there is also a sad reality in poor communities. I'm not sure my stance has necessarily changed for us privileged folk, but I also felt God nudging my heart - who am I to judge? There is an accountability to God - not me.

But, I will continue to encourage and exhort mothers - because it really is beyond this world, it is the most important, this job we are doing.

Food for thought huh?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Diet Deviations

I am still profoundly impacted by what happens to us when we become parents - the choices we make; how much we change; how much we are willing to change in order to create the best possible environments for our children. Each day, endless choices present themselves to us.

For some of us, we make the choice to drive in traffic two hours each day to take our children to what we believe to be the best possible schools; for some, it's the choice to sacrificing a part of ourselves to teach our children at home; for some, it's the choice to change our diet drastically to give our children the best possible odds in coping with life. And I'm amazed at the unselfishness of it all. As parents, we give up independence, we give up selfishness, without us really even realizing it.

To those of you making these sacrifices, however big or small, know that I salute you.

I applaud you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Comfortable Cocoon

I've just got out of a relaxing bath into which I collapsed after a seemingly endless day. I woke up at 0430 this morning, (might I add by choice? go figure!), to attend a 0515 spinning class with an instructor I really enjoy. However, the cost today is making me seriously question my sanity in choosing to do something like that! And he didn't even play good music - so picture me with head thumping music as the sun was coming up - not my cup of tea! I have struggled to stay awake throughout the day, wanting to choose self over motherhood often. The boys were very understanding when I attempted to grab some rest midday, but Belle is still a little young to understand that mom's closed door means "leave me alone", not "yell even louder"! So, methinks I shall relook at my training schedule and make something else work!

But whilst in the bath, I was reflecting on what God appears to be drawing my attention to, yet again. I feel like he is peeling off layers and layers of misconceptions about deeply entrenched ideas that aren't full of Light. And I realize that this is something he loves to do - to set us free. I realize because of His nature there is always a hope, a redemption available for me in the end that promises to be far more beautiful than where I am presently at, but by george (whoever he may be!) it is uncomfortable. So even though I am not enjoying this, I look forward to the end....

Friday, January 7, 2011

Our Chosen Choices

I've written and rewritten this post a number of times, altering things after I've written it as God has reminded me so bear with me, there might be more changes in days to come!

Over the last little while, I have spent a lot of time thinking about two things:

  1. the choices we make in our lives
  2. our lives are a direct result of our choices.
Which when you get down to it, is quite sobering. I know that sometimes circumstances sweep in and challenge us and alter our paths. But even in that, there is  a choice to be made - a choice as to how we will respond to those circumstances - we will either find a way to master those circumstances, or they will master us.

And our choices?

The one that has been bemusing me over the last few weeks is the parenting one.

“The formative period for building character for eternity is in the nursery. The mother is queen of that realm and sways a scepter more potent than that of kings or priests.” ~Author Unknown

Again, I really can't do better justice to this topic than this post, so please go over and read it and then return...(and know that I know some of you are single moms, divorced moms, moms who have no choice but to be working....this is not directed at you. But if you are choosing to work: do some maths - is it by necessity or desire? is it to maintain a lifestyle or put bread on the table?  just examine it for a moment will you?)

The part I want to highlight is this parenting thing, the character forming part of it: it is a constant, never ending call, even when we don't feel like it. It is our job, our duty to teach our children  - and for those of us who believe in God, I think it stretches further to expecting to see the Holy Spirit lead them. No, I don't believe we can or should be controlling our children, but I do believe they need to be led, to be taught, to be trained, to be shown. Today I caught sight of this title of a book that made me smile  - it was "Loving the Early Years, Motherhood in the trenches" - and i just loved the by-line! Mothering in these early years is really hard (and it may remain just as hard as kids grow I don't know, watch this space as I grow!). 

It's about constantly reminding our children time and time again not to call each other names. It's about exhorting them to use words that honor one another, or words that are meaningful instead of using silliness and toilet humor (something my boys find exasperatingly funny - so I'm in the throes here!). To cop out of this because you're tired of hearing your own voice, or because your kids never listen to you points to something even deeper. It is right to bring up our children in a way that teaches them to listen, teaches them to obey, teaches them to heed what is said - if not now, then what when adolescence hits?

 I am becoming convinced that this is indeed one of the most important aspects of motherhood. 

These choices we are making: choosing to speak or to be silent. Choosing to work or to stay at home. Choosing to take career A or B, choosing to trust God or trust ourselves -  whatever they may be - 

Are we sure that they count? 

That they are the right ones?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sizzling Summer

Temperatures in the Western Cape are estimated to hit 45 C today - can you believe it?! I am in NO way complaining, but sure would like a pool! However, in the early and late parts of the day, we can be found at the beach - am loving this one in particular this season - no crowds, and a wonderful lagoon. Normally it's icy waters deter us, but even I swam today!

New Year's Day - late afternoon

having such fun!



wonderful boy

Today, morning time, cousins

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Yearnings for the Year

So...the new year has begun, and is well on its way. And today is the first time in weeks that I am stopping. Just grinding to a halt. We've been so busy the last few weeks, out every day, doing little things - whether it be people, outings or errands. And with Braveheart going back to work, it's an opportunity just to STOP. And BE. And so we are.

As I write this the kids are eating sweets - yes, it's true. At this point I am keen to get the Christmas sweets over and done with! I love the peace and the calm that is emanating from my home today (somewhat intermittently I might add, there are still the odd squabbles, but I mean overall!). I love having my kids around me, and having time to be and speak into their lives without having to 'do' anything. I have to make a conscious effort not to create things for them to do today - it does not come naturally to me...

2011. Another year. Another start.

Me? These are some of my yearnings for the year: (Some semantics - I dislike "resolutions"...that implies something I have to work at to change..."yearnings", well that implies a desire, a longing, something God and I can do together - in his time, with his prompting....)

I long to sort out my food dilemma. I'll digress to bring you up to speed. I have come to loathe food - not when it is served to me, or made by someone else, but when I have to prepare it - cook it, make it..anything with food that requires my involvement leaves me sighing deeply. If I'm really honest, I think it comes down to pure laziness (oh the effort) and selfishness (I love being served, but not necessarily serving). And here's the rub - an a mother, and a wife, those really are two qualities that are not synonymous with those callings. If I want to have a home that is warm and  happy something has to give!

So to this end I have made a few adjustments again. I have created a breakfast, lunch and diner plan. This has streamlined  my shopping, and helps me mentally get a handle on what is required.  And as I do the shopping and the meal planning I am the only one really responsible for what my family eats - and I long to incorporate more of what I believe constitutes healthy eating, and to eat the way I want to - which largely falls by the wayside as to cook two meals etc just isn't cutting it for me. I also loathe budgeting and making money stretch....something I need to master. Any tips anyone? :)

But here's the thing. We've talked about it as a family, and I'm impressed with my kids - they're on board. I've cut out sugar cereals (thanks for the idea Nikki)  except for one day a week, and they have to eat some things they don't like. And when I sit down with a bowl of fruit, or some salad, they inevitably want what I am eating. Kids will follow our example, pure and simple - so the question is, what kinds of example are we setting them?      

I yearn for family time. Now we spend a lot of time as a family, but I still yearn for more. It's a priority for me.  More memories. A deeper sense of family, and what it means to be parents and be speaking into our lives. And to this end, again, it falls on me - it's my bent. I have blocked out the year, looked at all the public holidays and have an idea of when we'd like to try and get away again as a family. Now I need to find affordable options. I even feel that my time cycling is drawing to a close - as the Argus draws closer, it's going to require 3-4 solid rides of training a week, each 3-5 hours, and that's just such a huge chunk of time over the next two months. Time I'm not really that willing to hand over any more. I'm curious as to what will replace it though...interesting huh?

I long to see my children thrive in their new seasons this year. King Arthur will be at home with me, Aragorn for the first time will start a school on his own, not under King Arthur's shadow, and I really sense he will become his own person. And Belle also starts a little school. Now whilst I want them all home with me, I also know that this is right for each of them. Aragorn caves in to King Arthur too often. I sense God will use this to build him into his own confident self. And Belle will be able to be whoever she really is! And King Arthur will soak up this one on one time. This is also a new season for me - homeschooling. The teacher in me has unpacked all the stuff, put it on the shelves, filed it...and I have the same butterflies in my stomach I had when I taught for the first time! I'm determined to embrace this in a relaxed way - watch this space!

And being a wife. This kind of dove tails into the others. I want to focus more than anything on being the wife I've always wanted to be. A wife that sometimes makes her husband's favorite meal for dinner instead of always making the kids favorite ones, or feeding him the quickest easiest meal (like scrambled eggs!). I want to pack his lunch with as much effort as I do the kids - thinking about the nature of his day and whether it involves touch rugby, or gym etc. I want to think of creative ways to spend time with him, with and without the kids, not always putting the kids first.....all these things, that seemed so natural pre-kids, so natural when we were dating...are so foreign to me now.

I have some steep learning curves ahead of me!