31 August 2009

God blessed me in my rose garden!

When we bought the house we are currently living in, the rose garden caught my eyes first. I am absolutely fond of roses.

My rose garden during Spring 2006

But roses are hard work. You have to take care of it every week. The last two years I’ve neglected my rose garden a lot. Since the roses where at least 10 years old, I decided to take out all the roses and start all over again.

During the July holidays CJ took out all the roses

and CJ and Josua started to prepare the soil for the new roses.

We are living in the Western Cape and we have only clay soil, which is easily the worst kind of soil you can have for roses. Clay soil has NO drainage and roses need good drainage. Since we are always in favour of organic products we worked Bounce Back and agricultural lime into the clay soil.

Danika taking care of Andrew’s foot after he’d stepped on a rose thorn.

Daniel is checking the depth of the hole.

Andrew and David are watering the garden.

This past week we also worked in a huge amount of horse manure, which CJ got from the stables at the horse riding school.

So, today was the day I decided to go and buy new roses! All hybrid tea roses are beautiful and I decided to use fragrance as my criteria for choosing my new roses. I can only plant 6-10 roses on the peace of garden I have available. I did a search on google and got hold of this side by Gardens and Roses with their top ten lists of fragrance roses. The more I searched the more excited I become. But I’ve never been able to find the roses I’m looking for, so I tried to put a lid on my excitement. At the breakfast table I asked Christo and the children to pray that God would help me find some of the roses on my list or to give me peace on whatever roses I could find and to let the nursery have nice fragrance roses. It was so special to hear every ones prayer, from little David 2 ½ years old and Andrew 4 years old up to my Husband asking God to go before me in choosing my roses. This was such a minor request, but I know God wants to be part of every area of our lives and we like to show our children God cares about our hearts desires, no matter how small or insignificant.

My mother, mother-in-law and neighbor all recommend me to Ludwig roses, somewhere in the Stellenbosch area, so I quickly did a search to find them. Great was my surprise to find they have summer pruning classes in September.

Just before I left, early this afternoon, I quickly gave Ludwig Roses a call and from the start their eagerness to help me was refreshing. The lady on the phone asked me if I knew which roses I was looking for. When I told her I had a list, she offered to check the names on their computer. To my surprise they had ALL the roses available I had on my list of the top ten fragrance roses. I could not believe it!!

What a positive experience! Heidi-Mari, Josua, Danika and Daniel went with me. As I stopped at the rose nursery (they ONLY sell roses) I could only see rows on rows of roses! When I got out of the car, a man was already waiting to assist me. Inside the building they had a computer with photo slides of all the roses they have in stock and he showed me all the roses I was looking for on the slides. I’ve never in my life met someone that knows his roses so well. Then he took us outside and started to pick the strongest shrub in each category between the rows and rows of roses. You cannot imagine my joy and excitement. I was feeling like a young girl on a hot summer day allowed to choose the sweetest, biggest ice cream after a long, cold winter! We also bought Vigorosa as rose food. Within an hour we were back at home, with me proudly showing my roses to the rest of the family and keeping a careful eye on the unloading of my roses.

While we were all resting this afternoon, I was pondering on the favour and blessing of the Lord on my rose project. I can truly agree with Pr. 16:3 “Commit your work to the Lord, then it will succeed.” We’ve asked God to go before us and as usual He was so faithful!

We still need to get some peanut shell or bark chips to work into the clay soil and then CJ has to start digging 10 holes in the ground. We will plant the roses next Saturday, when dad has an off weekend.

Watch out for photos of my planted roses!

27 August 2009

Pouring my life into pleasing my husband!

Yesterday I went to the dentist. Our dentist is on the other side of the peninsula. A 30km drive, through national roads that are under construction for the 2010's soccer World Cup event, through Cape Town’s narrow streets and over the mountain. My dear husband gave up half of his day in his health shop to drive me through. At the dentist he sat at my feet and every time the dentist warned me of a procedure that could be uncomfortable or painful, he would put his hand on my ankle to let me know he was there for me and to encourage me.

I needed a few repairs on both sides of my mouth and really felt terrible afterwards. I was even more thankful that he had driven me, since I could not imagine driving myself all the way back. On our way back he took me for a coffee and although I could hardly taste the coffee, it was such a special time with my caring husband.

In the evening he put me to bed early, gave me some anti-oxidants to help my body recover from all the chemicals I was unfortunately exposed to and made sure I was comfortable.

Christo is truly my other half, chosen by God to protect me, care for me, guide me and provide for me. I appreciate him so much and praise and thank the Lord for this wonderful husband of mine.

But that wasn’t always my attitude towards my husband. It was only after I had learned to be a submissive wife who organized her life by his priorities, that I could be a content woman. I had a real breakthrough as a wife after realizing I am God’s perfect gift to my husband. I was created to make my husband happy and blessed, to serve him to the best of my ability, to make him complete and be his helper. After I had realized it is God’s perfect will for me, I could stop fighting the resentment to serve him, and let it come naturally. After all, God created me as a very special woman, perfectly suited to be my husband’s helper. All my talents and gifts, my unique personality, even my physical appearance, were part of being created especially to please my husband – it is my divine calling.

I once read a verse in 1 Peter 3:7 that gave me a completely new view of the togetherness of my husband and I. “…being heirs together of the grace of life.” In our modern culture, we women push to accomplish so much outside the home. Most of these things are not of God. We need to lay aside activities outside the home that push us and the kids to the edge of exhaustion and confusion. God’s will for me and Christo is to walk life’s path hand in hand. He doesn’t want us to run circles around each other, seldom meeting each other in the middle.

When I get off the phone, throw out the TV, stay off the web, reduce outside visits or women’s meetings and focus on putting my time into what my husband is doing and what my children need, I can better meet his needs and it is the beginning of learning to be an heir together with him of the grace of life!

Men long to be the most important activity in their wife’s life. My husband needs me with him, to be his help meet, his lover, his best friend. He needs to know HE is my king! I need to lay down my own agenda and become his Queen!

Becoming heirs together starts with me, because I am the weaker vessel and have the greatest need. It is my ‘visible’ need of him that awakens him. I’ve noticed that as I pour my life into pleasing my husband and serving him, he develops a protective, nurturing instinct towards me. As he gains confidence that his heart is safe with me and that I place his welfare first, he begins to trust me with his innermost being.

As I bonded with Christo, I gained his strength and stability. As a couple, we can now accomplish more than we would ever accomplish standing alone. He gives me emotional strength to deal with the issues of life, while he can trust my judgements and become wiser and more in tune with the needs of others. I know my husband only needs me to pour my life into his, for him to pour his soul back into mine. And our inheritance: great passion, stability, wisdom, joy, love and balance.

Will you pour your life into pleasing and serving your husband? What do you have to lose? You can only win!

24 August 2009

God’s First Revelation to me on the Blessing of Many Children.

A couple of years ago after my two children were born; we decided that we would not have any more children, although I dreamt of four children when I got married. After all, babies are hard work and a lot of stress. Heidi-Mari was a colic baby, who cried for six months before we learnt that she was diary-, wheat- and MSG intolerant. She was now two and a half years old and I was looking forward to have a live again. Heidi-Mari and CJ (then 5years old) were in playgroups and they were happy to be between their peers and getting the right stimulation from woman who had the talent and passion to work with little children (or that’s how I justified it to myself) I would then be able to start working in my husband’s business again and bring in some extra money to lift the financial burden. I would also be able to start hobbies again and go to woman bible studies without a toddler around my feet.

Then two friends of mine got pregnant with their third babies! Oh my! I was hooked! All of a sudden I wanted another baby! I tried to reason with myself. If I got pregnant again, I would be stuck at home again for another three years! And who in her right mind would want to do that to herself. I already had a boy and a girl, our parents only had two children, and everybody else I knew, except these two friends. Then the financial side. How does one provide in todays live for three children? Not even the church promotes more than two children. I must be crazy, I thought!

Everybody I talked to (even our pastor who had three children) advised me against having more children. Especially having three children! The middle child syndrome… was one of the main reasons! You either have two or four children. But I wanted another baby so badly! After two months of roller coaster emotions, I decided to ask God for help. I decided to pray and fast for 40 days and ask God to either take the yearning for another baby away, or to give me peace that it is OK to have another baby.

I must add that my husband didn’t mind having another baby at all, although his business was taking a lot of strain from the declining economy at that time. I wasn’t on any contraception, since I just couldn’t cope on any of the available contraceptive pills. For all the years of my married live, I had a very regular cycle and we used the rhythm method as contraception, with great success.

In the spring of 1999, I started my forty days fast of certain foods in my daily diet. Every morning and any other available time, I would read my bible, pleading with God for guidance and promises from His Word. It was an amazing few weeks in my life. God visited me every time I opened my Bible, revealing Himself to me and giving me the most amazing promises… and before the forty days was over, I was pregnant! I was overjoyed! With all the promises God gave me, I could just look forward to this new life and rely on Him to sustain us.

Since Heidi-Mari was a very traumatic hospital birth, miraculously NOT ending in a caesarian, we decided to have a home, water birth with a midwife. It was the most enriching time to go into labour on that evening of the 23rd of August and giving birth to a little boy in the early morning hours of the 24th of August 2000! Everything was so peaceful and calm. No rushing to a noisy hospital, nor leaving my small children at a family member, no bright, white lights in a hospital room, no strange nurses storming into the labour room every hour for observations, no interference with my bodies natural instinct to giving birth. Two hours after my baby boy was born, I was lying in my own bed, in my own room; my children had met their new baby brother and were back in a restful sleep in their own beds. The midwife left for her own hour or two of rest before dawn and Christo and I had time to adore our newborn baby over marmite toast and sandwiches!

The whole family 90min. after Josua was born.

Josua and Ingred Essl, and our very competent midwife. I’ve learned almost everything I knew about having babies the natural way and breastfeeding my babies, from this special woman.

CJ and Heidi-Mari proudly next to their new baby brother.

This was only the start of God’s blessing on our life through this baby boy. A few weeks after our baby’s birth, Christo’s business went down and we lost everything. We had to move to a small two bedroom granny flat, we had to borrow a family member’s car and Christo started a new business from scratch. But my baby boy gave me hope and a reason to live! Every time when I thought I could not do it, that the pressure and stress was too much, I would take my tiny baby into my arms and just love him. God renewed my tired, discouraged spirit by this baby’s dependency on me every time.

Today this tiny baby turned 9years old – my Josua! God truly used him to lead us into the Promised Land and taught us some basic truths about the blessing of children.

Do I still think babies are hard work? For sure! Do I still think they keep me from having a live? Never! They are the key to the life God intended for me from the start! Today my seven children are playing around their brothers and sisters, in the safety of their own home, having their mother, using her talents and passion to stimulate them and allow each one to grow into the unique person God intend them to be! And what about providing for all God’s blessings? God provides and He sustains us.
I have been young, and now am old;
Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken,
Nor his descendants begging bread.
He is ever merciful, and lends;
And his descendants are blessed.
Ps 37:25-26

Thank you Lord for answering my prayers and hunger for your truths about children, over the past ten years, and giving me this rich and blessed live as a mother!

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20 August 2009

Making Memories on CJ's 15th Birthday!

CJ’s 15th Birthday was a Memory Making Day. I’m realizing celebrating his birthday, as we know it now, will soon change. In three to four years from now, he will be a young man and birthdays will yet again take another form of celebration.

Monday morning CJ went with dad to his shop. At 11h30 I picked them up and we went to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in the Cape to celebrate his birthday at the Hildebrand Restaurant. We remembered CJ falling, at 3years of age, in front of the Restaurant, while we were drinking a cool drink, and broke his arm! But the Hildebrand Restaurant is such an excellent Italian Restaurant; we went back despite the accident, for years after that. We have never felt bloated after a meal at The Hildebrand and their service is the best we know in the Peninsula. Some of their waiters have been working there for over 35 years!

What a special time we had together. Relaxing and enjoying each others company, talking about special moments over the past 15years.

CJ could chose whatever he wanted from the menu and he ordered Calamari rings for a starter and a half portion seafood platter for the main meal. The reason he chose these dishes are because we, as a family, don't eat any shell fish. We eat only fish covered with scales. Since this was a very special occasion and he loves seafood, we made an exception. We believe the Bible is right when it forbidden the Israelites to eat shell fish (for health reasons – not spiritual reasons). They are the ‘vacuum cleaners’ of the ocean and therefore are not the best to consume.

Since CJ ordered such an extravagant main meal, our very competent waiter, Tony, asked if it was a special occasion for CJ. After hearing it was his 15th birthday, he congratulated CJ with his birthday. Tony Yates is such a gentleman.

When it was time for desert, CJ received two deserts. The one he ordered and another desert with a sparkle and the waiters sang Happy Birthday CJ! He enjoyed that a lot – my CJ is a real sweet tooth and always asked me to bake him some cookies!

After our delicious meal we took a little walk around the Waterfront. But it was freezing cold and we made it short!

CJ and Dad with the Clock Tower in the back ground.

We even saw a “real” pirate ship coming into the harbor!

This was such a special time together. Thank you Lord for granting us such memory making moments!

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17 August 2009

CJ's 15th Birthday!

Today, the 17th of August, my firstborn is 15 years old. I can still remember the day before he was born. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. My husband’s bible study group was supposed to start a new bible study book that week and since I had nothing else to do, than waiting for this baby to be born, I offered to go into town to fetch the books from the Christian book shop. As I was driving home that afternoon, my tummy big and very uncomfortable behind the steering of my small red Volkswagen, I promised myself that I will not getting behind the steering of my car again, before this baby was born. That evening the women’s bible study was at our place and as one of my friends walked through the door, she gave me one look and said, "you’re going to have a baby tonight!" Just like that. Every one within hearing distance stopped their conversations looked at her, asking her how she could tell? She said it is easy, just by looking how big Linnie’s nose is, she could tell!!

Well, at two the next morning, my waters broke and CJ was born after a very long labor at 17h30 that evening.

He was a healthy 3.4 kg baby boy and according to the grandparents on both sides (who became grandparents for the first time) he lifted his head an hour after he was born.

Since that day, near every due date I secretly, try to “measure” the size of my nose, but after having given birth to seven babies, I can still not see the bigger nose!

The most outstanding moment of becoming a mother was when the hospital nurse (CJ was born before I knew of home births and water births, I didn’t even know it is possible to give birth with a midwife!) brought my newborn baby for his first feeding, around 22h00. I remember looking at this tiny little baby, whom I knew, but still I didn’t know him at all, and his big dark eyes looking back at me, listening to my voice, trying to figure out from where he knew me! It was just one of those moments in time you never forget.

Over the years I remember so many firsts! There were so many joys, and just as many moments of tears. Growing into motherhood is hard! There are so many opportunities for mistakes. And over the years one thing I’m sure of is: “God use children to make mothers His perfect brides-to-be for the Day of His return.”

Before I had children, and even after two children I couldn’t quite understand the verse in 1 Tim 2:15 “Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.”

Wow! I am now starting to understand this verse. I believe there is no career in the world, which can teach woman faith, love, holiness and self-control like motherhood! Motherhood constantly asks self sacrifice, it keeps you on your knees and oh my, the most challenging one for me – self-control. So I praise the Lord for this beautiful son of mine who came and opened my womb fifteen years ago and led the way for more to come. He led the way in so many ways and I therefore believe God’s grace is so much more on the firstborn, since a mother still needs to learn so much, while raising her firstborn.

I’ve already written a few times on how God will not let your children miss the callings on their lives. CJ is now only 15 years old and we can’t say for sure what God’s calling is on his live, although we have a pretty good idea, but we do know he has a gifting in working with horses. Yesterday, as I was looking through his baby album, I found the very first picture of CJ on a small pony just before his first birthday. It was the birthday party of a friend and Christo took the picture.

On Saturday he took part in a Show Jumping Event in Stellenbosch. He jumped the 80cm and 90cm competition classes.

Both times he got first prize!

How could I ever have dreamt my tiny baby would win show jumping competitions at the age of 15?

Well done my son and happy birthday! May the Lord use us and many more Godly people to teach you and instruct you in His ways. We love you lots!

06 August 2009

Swine Flu - Mother do you panic?

My husband wrote this article on the Swine Flu. Go read it, get all the facts, be prepared and don't panic like the rest of the world.

05 August 2009

Daniel's First Birthday Cake!

The anticipation for Daniel’s first birthday started to build up on Thursday, when we baked the cakes. We decided to make a train cake and needed a rectangular cake and a Swiss roll. Years ago I had to do two years practical classes in nutrition as part of my education. I remember very well my first attempt to bake a Swiss roll. Since I had NO experience in the kitchen as a young girl, it was one big flop. From that day, now more than 20years later, I’d rather buy a Swiss roll than try to bake one! For Daniel’s train cake I was forced to bake the Swiss roll myself. One of the party friends is a diabetic and I wanted to give a part of the Swiss roll to her as her treat, since she’s not allowed to eat any icing sugar or sweets.

On Thursday morning I pulled out my university recipe book and started to read everything about a Swiss roll. The most important characteristic of a Swiss roll is that it contains no shortening or chemical raising agent, like baking soda or baking powder. The raising agent is air whipped into the eggs. The trick is to get as much air into the egg as possible and to stabilize the egg to keep the air inside, so the end product doesn’t shrink after the baking process. You also want a very delicate texture. A little cream of tartar and/or lemon juice is the secret to trap as much air into the whipped eggs as possible. You also need to use very high quality flour, but I use spelt flour, that does not contain as much gluten as wheat does. I chose a recipe to separate the egg white and egg yolk, whipped them separately (result more trapped air) and added a little baking powder.

Here we go:

Swiss roll with baking powder


160 g spelt flour or 120 g baking flour
5 ml baking powder
pinch of salt
4 eggs (separate white and yolk)
12,5 ml lemon juice
2.5 ml cream of tartar
25 ml water
160 g xylitol (200 ml) or sugar
125 ml St. Dalfour Thick Apricot jam


1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a medium baking tray with ungreased baking paper or well-greased waxed paper, allowing the paper to extend over the edges.

2. Using an electric beater, beat egg whites on high, until stiff peaks form, but not dry. Gradually add 100g of xylitol (or sugar) and the cream of tartar, (dissolve in the 25ml of water) into the egg whites, until glossy peaks form. The mixture should resemble a thick stable foam and the mark from a spoon dragged through the mixture should not disappear.

3. Beat the yellow yolk until thick and pale yellow. Beat in rest of xylitol (or sugar) and lemon juice, until xylitol is dissolved.

4. Gently fold the yellow yolk into the stiff egg whites, with a metal spoon.

5. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Sift again in layers, into the egg mixture and very gently fold the flour in with a large metal spoon until well blended.

6. Spoon batter onto baking tray evenly and smooth out to the corners with a pallet knife. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly golden and springy to the touch.

7. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with water, and roll to dampen all over, place onto a worktop. Turn the cake onto the tea towel, remove the tray. Carefully peel off the paper.

8. Spread the sponge lightly with apricot jam and roll immediately into a tight spiral with the aid of the tea towel, starting from the longer side. Roll up and allow to cool, while wrapped in the cloth.

9. When cold remove the towel and trim edges if necessary. Swiss Rolls are best eaten on the day they are made; as they contain no fat, they quickly become stale.

Our Swiss roll was fairly successful and I was proud of myself, as were the children.
CJ had a ball taking the pictures. He went through a tough patch, losing a friend that is emmigrating to Australia. Since all the children are around me every moment of the day, I could sense he needed some tender, loving care and I involved him in what interested him most – taking pictures and releasing him from school work for the morning.

Next we mixed our well tested chiffon cake, baked in a baking tray and the little ones had a ball licking out the mixing bowls.

During the rest of Thursday, Heidi-Mari and Josua decorated a Happy Birthday Daniel banner for the party. We got the idea here.

On Friday morning we cleaned the house and in the afternoon the decorating of the train started.

The night before, Christo and CJ laid out the construction of the train, with the different pieces of cake, but I was so tired after putting Daniel to sleep, I couldn’t give enough attention to the details. On the Friday afternoon, CJ worked at the stables and with Christo at work, I was in trouble. I started the cake, but by the time Christo and CJ arrived home, at 18h00, I was in a total panic and I knew the construction of this train was not right.

Christo immediately gave the right instructions and within 20 min, the train was ‘on track’.

But then we started with the carriages and again we had some trouble. We planned to make the carriages with chocolate wafers.

The problem with wafers is, that it dries out within an hour and then the wafer separates from the chocolate and falls apart. By 20h00 both carriages were falling apart.

Christo had to make a quick trip to the Spar to try and find another solution. I had to put Daniel to sleep and was exhausted and discouraged. It was the first time a cake just didn’t come together.

Since I was so tired and Daniel lately didn’t fall asleep so easily, I fell asleep next to him (I think even before he slept). By 21h30 I awoke, to find two perfect carriages, made of zoo cookies and a beautiful and colourful tree, made of gum sweets.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. Christo, CJ and Heid-Mari had finished the cake and even cleaned up the kitchen. I just had to make the final border around the cake, fill it up with food coloured coconut and put on the birthday candle.

What a relief – the cake was finished and thanks to my dear husband and two older children, even more beautiful than I expected!

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