31 December 2009

Remembering 2009!

It was a year filled to the brim with pleasant, unexpected surprises. It is with joy and great appreciation to my Heavenly Father and Provider, that I'm looking back on 2009!

The Lord unexpectedly led me to start this blog in early January! For 3 years I led a `Mothers’ Encouraging Evening` once a month.  

The children and I would cook a meal for the 10 plus mothers, and afterwards I would share what I’ve learned from Above Rubies and Whole Hearted Ministries.  When David was a few months old, I realized that my life was too busy.  It took me hours to prepare the teachings for these evenings and I was neglecting my little blessings.  Thus I stopped these wonderful, encouraging fellowship evenings at the end of 2007.  Christo and I both had confirmation that it was a wonderful, blessed season, but that this season was at an end, though I would miss the sharing and teaching very much.  Then during Christmas 2008, I was invited to read the blog of one of my mentors and overnight (as usual) the Lord laid it on my heart to start this blog, even giving me the name!  Thank you Lord for entrusting me with this blog, I only want to glorify your name through it.

Thank you to my encouraging husband and dear friend Hazel who checks the grammar and sentence construction of my blog. I’m an Afrikaans girl from the Free State and English is not my strong point, but thanks to your corrections, I’m learning more than ever in my life.

Through my blog I am myself so encouraged by the revelations from the Lord and I met wonderful blog-friends!  Thank you to all my new Blog-friends I met during this year!  I'm still surprised by your daily e-mails, comments and the people I meet in person who read my blog and find it encouraging.  Many of you have your own blogs and I love to read your blogs and learn, get encouraged and be inspired.

As I look back at my family-life over this year, I can only smile and thank the Lord for His faithfulness.  In February I've turned 40 

and two months later I was pregnant with baby #8. This pregnancy is such a blessing and we are now in great anticipation for his/her arrival within the next 20 days!

Our homeschooling has taken on a totally different routine.  Christo took over a lot of CJ’s teaching, they excel in their creation based science and won the Apologia’s Science Question of the Week competition twice! 

During the end of 2008 I was introduced to lapbooking and suddenly had a fun tool to involve my little ones much more. 

How I love to see their enthusiasm during this informal learning process.

Heidi-Mari and Josua also made a few lapbooks 

and started two books in the Young Explorer series

I believe homeschooling is learning through real life and so many of real life is happening in our home through taking care of the young ones, giving a hand in Dad’s business, working in our vegetable garden and just keeping up with daily chores. There were many days that we didn’t do the three R’s, a unit study (through lapbooking) or science. Many days they just played and since five of my seven children are under ten, playing is still very much part of our daily life!

CJ experienced miracles in his horse riding. God provided him with a horse, Silverball. 

He and Silverball won several rosettes at cross country- and show jumping competitions. 

The Lord also used Silverball and the horse-riding to build character into CJ as we are experiencing hardship by the end of this year and testing of our faith!

During the year the Lord provided for the sending out of three issues of the Above Rubies magazine and we could bring encouragement to 4000 families in South Africa and neighboring countries. Every time we sent out the magazine my children and husband worked alongside me to finish packing and posting within two weeks!

One of my biggest achievements for this year was, starting my own vegetable garden! 

Oh, how I love to sneak out in the early morning to check on my veggies.  But without Christo’s approval, making finances available and CJ’s physical hard work, it would not have been possible!


Thank you Lord for your Hand of blessing on my vegetable garden.  I’ve also experienced how the Lord revealed amazing truths to me through my vegetable garden.

There are still so many things I would like to share about this year, I would love to thank my little ones for the joy they bring me every day, the help of my older children, especially when I am resting on the couch or finishing a posting. I want to thank my husband for all the love and encouragement I’ve received from him and his trust in me in teaching our children. Whenever I get discouraged or worried about not doing enough in homeschooling, he is the one to give me perspective and get me focused again on the important stuff. 

Last of all I want to thank the Lord for a very big unexpected surprise I got on Tuesday. The computer I work on for researching homeschooling material, administrating Above Rubies and my blogging, is ten years old and very, very slow.  We planned on buying me a new computer, preferably a laptop, so I can use it any where in the house, but I knew of so many more important needs in our home, that I put the prospect of getting one in the near future, out of my mind.  The last few months I really got frustrated with the extra time this slow computer was taking up every time I worked on it, I asked my Heavenly Father that if possible, please to miraculously provide for a new computer, but that His will be done!

On Tuesday afternoon, when I woke up from my afternoon nap with the little ones, there was a gift box wrapped in golden gift wrap under the christmas tree.  The little ones and I, spotted it immediately and I could see the anticipation on my older children’s faces.  They handed me the box and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what I was praying for so intensely - but that was such an impossible thought.  It was one of the biggest moments in my life, when I unwrapped the box. I had an Apple laptop on my lap!! I have no words to describe the emotions I experienced.  

Christo was able to find an amazing deal online and his colleges (whom he consulted to check it out) all asked the question: why was it so much cheaper than the normal retail price?  Well, I’m not surprised, I know why.  When God moves, you can expect miracles in every day life.  Thank you Lord for being my Heavenly Father and Provider.  Only You are worthy to take the Universes’ Throne!

May you experience the love, care, truthfulness, guidance, provision and faithfulness of our Heavenly Father in abundance during 2010.

This is my prayer for you:
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Eph 3:14

Lots of love

27 December 2009

Will there be Enough to Feed a Hungry World?

For two days, we just did not have the time to water the watermelon-pumpkin bed and our seedlings. Yesterday morning I woke up early to water the beds, seedlings and gave some liquid fertiliser to my tomatoes, peas and beans. Big was my disappointment to see two of the watermelon plants dead due to the heat and lack of water (We know only have 9 watermelon plants). When I got to my seedlings, one of my bean seedlings was also dead (out of 30 seeds only 11 germinated!). It is so sad to lose these plants. All I could think of was all the watermelons and countless beans I could harvest from these plants and know it was lost!

Since this is our first planting season, I'm still in the learning curve. I need to sow much more seeds during the next planting season. I specifically need to sow much more watermelon and beans.

Right there, while watering my seedlings, the Lord gave me a revelation. He showed me how my babies are like seeds sowed and as Christo and I raise them in God's ways, they are growing in beautiful little plants.

We have to take care of them every single day, nurturing them and protecting them against the elements of the world, until they are strong and big enough to be transplanted in the big, wide world.

Then they will be able to start to bear fruit - healthy, delicious fruit that can feed a hungry world – hungry for the truth and love of God.

God showed me the comparison between the seeds I've sown, which was not by far enough to produce a big enough harvest for my family, and the little seeds and plants and eventually the harvest that will be brought forth from Godly marriages (Malachi 2).

“…the Lord has been witness
Between you and the wife of your youth,…
…she is your companion
And your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one,
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.”
Mal 2:14

I could feel the deep disappointment and sadness the Heavenly Gardener felt because not enough seeds and plants are coming forth from Godly marriages. Currently there isn't a big enough harvest of Godly offspring to feed a hungry world and satisfy unsaved souls, in their search for truth, righteousness and the true love of God.

Under the right conditions one little plant can produce a large harvest, feeding a lot.

The same large harvest can be produced with little Godly human plants growing up in Godly marriages.

I'm thinking of the offspring of the Jonathan and Sarah Edwards family in the 1700’s.
Jonathan Edwards was a theologian, pastor, missionary and university president. He had a brilliant mind. At age ten (1713) he entered Yale College and at sixteen years he graduated at the head of his class. When he was twenty-three-years old, he became pastor of the church at Northampton, Massachusetts, which at the time was the most influential church in America. That same year he married Sarah Pierrepont, a daughter of one of the founders of Yale, and they had twelve children.
By 1900, this godly marriage had produced:
13 college presidents;
65 professors;
100 lawyers and a dean of an outstanding law school;
30 judges;
60 doctors and a dean of a medical school;
80 holders of public office including 3 United States Senators;
3 mayors of large cities;
3 state governors;
a Vice President of the United States; and
a Controller of United States Treasury

They entered the ministry in platoons, sent one-hundred missionaries overseas as well as staffing many mission boards. Members of the family wrote 135 books and edited eighteen journals and periodicals.

Another century has gone by since this study. How much more has this one family influenced the world? This happened because one husband and wife had a vision for raising a godly seed and satisfy the world!

This gave me a new determination to present myself even more available to the Heavenly Gardener to bring forth Godly seeds and plants which will bear a harvest of good works that can change the world!

“…that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;”
Col 1:10

“…he will be a vessel for honour, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”
2 Tim 2:21

“…Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
Heb 13:20


Will you also be moved by the Heaven Gardener, and present yourself available to produce Godly offspring, and that in abundance, so we can change the world?

23 December 2009

Making a Difference during Christmas!

Between CJ’s Junior Championships, Josua’s Horse camp (where he received a 4th place in show jumping), putting 3 500 Above Rubies magazines in 550 envelopes
and my early contractions, we Heidi-Mari, managed to finished a few last minute Christmas decorations!

We don’t buy Christmas crackers, we make our own. For the children it is part of the anticipation of Christmas, without giving into the commercializing of Christmas. We especially use the crackers to reach out to friends and neighbours. Here Heidi-Mari gave step-by-step instructions on how she made them.
During the end of October we baked our Christmas fruit cakes. Over the past few weeks we matured them and this week we decorated them as ‘Thank you Gifts’ to the children’s horse riding- and ballet-teachers. Baking the fruit cakes at least 6 weeks before Christmas is another way to start anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth.
The children baked cookies under Heidi-Mari’s supervision. Here she gave our cookie recipe, with decorating instructions. We’ve experimented with a few cookie recipes to find the one Christo liked the most. Christo prefer a crispy, hard cookie.
Heidi-Mari also finished a few Christmas cards.
We also made an Advent Mini book for the little ones, visually showing them the story of Christ’s birth. Years ago when CJ was 9years old, we bought an advent scene made of plaster of paris. We painted it ourselves.
It is our most significant Christmas decoration. Before we did the mini book, I used the advent scene to tell them the story of Christ's birth, with as many senses involved as possible.

It is normal that for small children, Christmas is very much all about the lights, decorations and gifts. They are still spiritual immature Beings. I cannot expect from David and Andrew to have the physical or even the emotional strength that CJ and Josua possess. But over time they need to grow stronger. It is Christo’s and my responsibility to give them the right food to grow into strong healthy young men, stretch them emotionally and discipline to grow into emotionally balanced adults. It is our responsibility to make sure that this time of year is understood by our children as an important message of God’s love and redemption and that, that is the focus of why we celebrate Christmas. Christmas is part of the world, it will not go away, so when our children are young men and women they will be able to discern what real Christmas is all about. They are not born with a natural wisdom about the true meaning of Jesus' birth and our celebration of it. Since they don't understand it from the start and parents often neglected their responsibility to teach them the meaning, by not putting the gifts and lights in the right perspective, it is irrational to throw out the baby with the bath water and say Christmas is all wrong.

The God I serve is a God of feasts! All over the Old Testament I read about God instilling feasts, with one of the main reasons for the celebration and feasts, for His people to be a reminder! Even the Passover and death of a lamb was associated with a feast, to remind His people of their victorious redeeming out of Egypt, the land of slavery. Why would God not ‘allow’ us to remember His son's birth, the most joyous (“I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” Luke 2:10) and significant event in the history of mankind, with a feast? I know all the arguments against the actual time of the year and associations with pagan feasts, but for our family it does not change the truth that Jesus become Son of man to redeem us from sin!

I’m saying this in no offence to Christian friends who do not celebrate Christmas. I always keep Rom 14:1-6 in mind in observing certain feasts as a Christian, while others does not observe it:

“14 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. 2 For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. 3 Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. 5 One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. "

The actual question for me is:
What are we doing with the feast? Is our focus on the feast, the commercializing of it, or do we glorify God through the feast? We don’t need to be pulled into the commercializing; we are in the world, but not from the world.

We want to remind our children of Christ greatest sacrifice as in Phil. 2:5:

“5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name…”

We also want our children to reach out to the unsaved and make a difference on Christmas.

“16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”

God gave us the greatest gift of all; we want to illustrate it with our gifts to friends and neighbours through Christmas. During Christmas time people are most open for the message of Christ.

In our neighbourhood we are the only Christians in our direct sphere of influence. Every neighbour next to us and opposite the street is in and from the world. When we moved into this neighbourhood, Christo was still the representative for Walk Thru the Bible Ministries in the Western Cape. On the back of our bus we had a clear banner with a telephone number of Walk Thru the Bible. Our neighbours didn't need to wonder if we were Christians or not. On top of it we had all these children, whom we home schooled and the wife was pregnant every year, confessing she wanted to fill the world with godly offspring. We certainly were food for thought!

One of our neighbours is a biker and constantly had LOUD biker parties into the early hours of the morning. One Saturday morning, as Christo left for work, our front lawn was scattered with empty beer bottles and even pieces of broken glass. I felt compelled to go to the neighbours and tell them how their quests made a mess and my children could get seriously injured in their own yard due to irresponsible people. The neighbours didn't take it well. They told me they will at least have 4 parties a year and that they were not able to control their quests. Since that day they didn't greet us whenever we were in front of our yards together.

By the end of that year we decided to make little Christmas boxes, put Lindt chocolate inside, John 3:16 on the one side of the box and our surname on another side. We made enough for at least 4 families. On Christmas Eve we put it in a basket, dressed up neatly and went to see who of our neighbours were at home. We first went to our biker neighbours. They were home and you could see the surprise on their faces as our whole family stood in their front door, wishing them a blessed Christmas. The father of the house immediately called his wife and they talked to the children for 15 minutes. Two other families were home too and appreciate the act of love so much. Since that Christmas we became friends with these neighbours.

They periodically blessed us and we blessed them. Our biker friends now don't have more than 2 parties a year and at one recent occasion even made the effort to worn us 24 hours before their party. They assured us they will keep the music down and the quests inside!

It is so special to reach out to the unsaved and the needy during Christmas-time. What a golden opportunity to be Christ to them. Christianity don't have a very good reputation in the world today. People would rather do business with a Moslem than with a Christian. Chances are better that you will receive good service from a Moslem than a Christian. Isn't Christmas the time of the year to show people who we truly are? People redeemed by Christ to make a difference! Glorifying God through the feast!

This year we’ve made extra Christmas crackers for our neighbours. We will put it in a basket and go to see who are at home, and show love to them.

To all my family and friends (in person and in cyberspace): May you all have a blessed Christ centred Christmas, making a difference right there where you are!

Lots of love
The Lues family

This is the 13th SACHS Blog carnival under the theme Christmas Ideas/Crafts/Decorations which is part of the South African Carnival of Homeschool Blogs. To join the carnival or visit past carnivals visit the SACHS Blogs page. We hope you enjoy browsing!

19 December 2009

Cherish Every Moment!

Nothing has given me more perspective on how quickly children grow up, than being the mother of a fifteen year old, and an unborn baby!

It is easy to be so pre-occupied by taking care of all our children’s needs and getting caught up in all their demands that we forget this time will pass so quickly! Before long they will be young adults, starting to test their little wings, preparing themselves for leaving the nest.

There is also the reality of, as they grow up, we as parents will face moments where we will not be able to take care of all their needs anymore. When CJ was just a little boy I once read, “When our children are small they have many needs, but easy to solve; as they grow older they will have less needs, but more difficult to solve.”

This past week I fully experienced this quote! CJ took part in the Junior Show jumping Championships, over five days. From the start things did not quite go as we expected. On day one, CJ got a cramp in his calf, at the second jump; he could not control Silverball, who had his eye on the wrong jump. Silverball stopped right in front of the jump

and since CJ could not hold on with his legs (due to the cramp), he fell off in the jump. He immediately got up, but was holding one of the poles in his hand and only a few seconds later, realized that he was still holding the pole in his hand. He slowly put it down, took Silverball by his rains and led him out of the arena.

Never before have I seen my son in so much shock and disappointment. Shock, because he really got a fright when his calf went into a cramp, losing control over his horse, while approaching the jump, knowing he was going to fall! Disappointment, since he was not able to finish the course after the fall and got eliminated for the day. He was looking forward to take on the challenge of jumping the course so much, and within seconds it was over and there was nothing he could do about it. My pain was beyond what I had ever experienced before, since I couldn’t do anything about my son’s disappointment. Everything in me cried out to run towards my him and to hold him, telling him everything is okay, and that he would have another chance the next day. But my son is fifteen years old; I couldn’t pick him up anymore and it wasn’t okay, it was very important. All I could do was to pray, asking God to give me self-control and peace, giving CJ acceptance in this very painful situation.

On the second day Silverball just ran into the first jump. Amazingly, the Judge approached him and gave him permission to start the course over. If he finished the first eight jumps without any faults, he could continue to the next eight jumps. The second chance was much better, but Silverball refused one jump and he had to stop after the eighth jump. CJ wasn’t so disappointed this time; he had the opportunity to jump a part of the course.

An experienced horse owner mention that by the way Silverball held his head as he went over a jump, it was possible that his back was in serious pain and for that reason refused the jump also. Silverball is nineteen years old, not at all a young horse any more. Taking into account his performance with CJ over the past year, he was taking strain! Later the day, a horse physiotherapist confirmed the painful back. They immediately started treatment, painkillers and Christo and CJ gave Silverball supplements.

They weren’t due for jumping until the fourth day and that gave Silverball a day off and a chance to recover. On the fourth day Silverball looked much better. CJ also was taking huge amounts of water with Concentrace minerals and cell food to avoid cramps in the heat. I was praying night and day. I saw a new Christian slogan the other day – P U S H – Pray Until Something Happens. That was the only thing I could do, and I did!

It was a good day! They had a clear round and CJ finished 10th out of 35 contestants. There was a lift in the atmosphere and I could only praise the Lord for granting my son this victory!

Unfortunately on the morning of the fifth day, Silverball was even worse than on the second day. The horse Physiotherapist diagnosed knee problems on the fourth day and they put “Ice Man” on the knee. As CJ went to fetch Silverball from the stable, to put him in the horse box, he found Silverball with a huge swollen knee, due to an allergic reaction to “Ice Man”. They immediately got the Vet and he declared Silverball ‘sound’ to jump – it was only a skin reaction, but Christo still SMS (text) me to urgently pray – it didn’t look good. For an hour I was praying scriptures, calling out to the Lord through my favourite Ps 37.

Still Silverball was not up to the course. For the first time since CJ jumped with Silverball he kicked off a pole and he refused another jump. For CJ the championship was over.

So many emotions were experienced – the expectations that weren’t reached, the concern about Silverball, the fear that this may be the end of Silverball’s career… It was so beautiful, but also painful to watch the video clip Josua took while CJ jumped on the fifth day and see how CJ still patted Silverball with approval, when they walked out of the arena, although they didn’t have victory! He loves Silverball so much. Silverball was his first horse, the horse that gave everything to show CJ’s talent for horse riding and –jumping.

In the midst of all this I’ve started to experience serious contractions! It must be due to the stress. For a moment I was just so exhausted of being in the spiritual war, experiencing my son’s pain and concern about his horse and worrying about the future that I didn’t mind if I went into labour with our unborn baby, even weeks before the due date. Then this morning, as baby was stretching and moving and I looked down on my tummy, it dawned on me – I must cherish every moment with EVERY child!

I must cherish this unborn baby in my tummy! I must take care of him or her to the best of my ability. I must enjoy the little movements, before long he or she is born, and I will not have these special moments of feeling baby’s movements inside of me. How amazing to carry a human being inside my body!

I must cherish my 18 months old baby Daniel, who, within a few weeks, won’t be my baby anymore! The moment a newborn arrives, the baby isn’t the baby anymore. I will cherish his soft baby-like body, the way he lays next to me in bed. The way he calls me ‘Mommy”.

I must cherish my six year old Danika. The little girl who is quickly growing out of her toddler stage into a girl. I will make mental notes of the look in her eyes as she adores me when I put on my make-up and she wish she could be grown up already. Not long and she will be a young woman, spreading her wings into adulthood!

I must especially cherish the last few years with my eldest son, under my roof. He is now a young man who is quickly growing into adulthood, already experiencing the hardships of life – not a child anymore!

When my baby cries I can quickly pick him up, take care of his needs. Taking care of my little ones’ needs, are more than I can count in a day, but they are easy to solve. When the young man, I call my son, is silently crying, there isn’t much I can do about it. These moments are rare, but not easy to solve. I can only take it to my Heavenly Father, trusting He will take care of it, in His good timing. Then there is one other thing I can do –I can unconditionally love him - because I’ve cherished special moments over the last fifteen years!

I haven’t allowed other things to take my focus away from my children. It is so easy when other things take our focus away from our children and motherhood that we harden our hearts towards our children and we believe the lie - they are only a nuisance, keeping us from real life, dreading every stage of their life.

Dear mother, sharing our time with our children and cherishing memory making moments, is real life! Don’t allow the enemy to kill, steal and destroy special moments with your children, by wishing they will pass a certain stage. Every stage has its challenges, look out for the special moments in every stage. Before long they will be grown up and only the special moments you have cherished, will make life worth while.
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