27 September 2010

Life and that in Abundance!

Saturday morning, was the most beautiful, champagne-clear morning in the Cape.  Starting in September and only ending early March, we have the most terrible winds, but we don’t complain to much, since the rest of South Africa need their summer rains and this is only possible when the wind blows in the Cape. Being a farm-girl from the Free State, I know how essential the rain is for the rest of our beautiful country!  The saying: “The Cape is like a baby, either windy or wet!”, is true enough.
To come back to our clear Saturday morning - there were no clouds, no wind and we decided to visit a wine farm in the Durbanville-winelands - Meerendal Wine Estate.  

It has the most beautiful green grass for children to run and play on, just what my little ones needed.
We don’t do family outings to often.  Christo works every other Saturday and CJ works every Saturday at Serenity, the horse riding school where he has the privilege to ride one of the owner’s horses.  On Christo’s free weekend, we’re sometimes just to exhausted after a very busy week to saddle up the children and go for an outing.  Part of the outing is to get up early enough to get breakfast done and we don’t have a simple cereal for breakfast - It’s at least eggs and toast; clean up after 10 people had their food, make 9 beds, dress 4 little boys and then to be on our way before it is time for lunch again!  
Since Friday was a holiday in South Africa, Saturday was a bonus, Christo had his free weekend and by 11h30 all the children were strapped in the  Vito.  Unfortunately, CJ still had to work and couldn’t join us!  

And what a delightful, fun two hours we had.  On the one side of the wide green grass, a huge jumping castle greeted the children and they had a ball! Here are some fun pictures:

Thank you Lord for blessing us with life and that in abundance!

24 September 2010

Thank You!

Five years ago (Jan 2005) the Lord amazingly lead me to  take responsibility for the Above Rubies Magazine in South Africa. During that time only 70 South African families received this encouraging magazine for families from Nancy Campbell in the States, founder and author of the Above Rubies magazine.    
Above Rubies  started more than 32 years ago in New Zealand when Nancy Campbell was the young mother of 6 children.  She felt (like many mothers feel even more so today) the pressure of feminism and humanism all around her in the media and in the education system and there wasn’t any encouragement for mothers at home. Nancy Campbell felt the burden to send out a regular magazine that would encourage and affirm mothers in their high calling as a mother, which will bring strength to marriages and bless families! 
She approached a Christian printing firm with her vision to encourage marriages, mothers and families and they printed 1500 magazines. It sounded like an enormous amount back then! Within weeks after she was a quest speaker at a conference, giving out the magazine for free, she started  receiving letters and donations from people all over New Zealand.  She went to print with the 2nd issue and printed 5,000 and 20,000 for the 3rd issue.  At that stage the magazine had a huge impact on the nation in New Zealand.
Above Rubies is a free magazine - made available TOTALLY by donations to its Readers over the past 32 years!!. It isn’t a Subscribing magazine, since people only subscribe for something which they believe in!  And Yes, Above Rubies do bless thousands of Godly families who believe in Godly marriages - but Nancy’s vision is bigger than that.  She also want to bless those marriages that are falling apart, those women who don’t have a vision for home, those mothers who are still in their careers and NO vision for home and motherhood. So that is why the Above Rubies magazine is made available by donation, so people can take it out, hand it out and share it freely and trust God to provide. And now it is more than 32 years and God is still providing.
Currently about 120 000 copies are printed.  It goes all over the world to more than 100 countries.
During the past five years, the Lord  sovereignly provided financially for the Above Rubies Ministry in South Africa and it exploded!  In 2005 only 70 families received this precious magazine, but currently we send out 4,000 magazines to 600 readers in South Africa and neighboring countries.
During 2009 Above Rubies South Africa experienced a dip in financial support, but at the beginning of 2010 the Lord miraculously opened the hearts of South Africa’s Readers’ to support this ministry!  
Since Heidi-Mari and I love to make cards on our Mother-Daughter evenings once a week, I decided to start making ‘Thank you’ cards for families who invest money in this ministry.  Obviously I will not be able to make a Thank you card for every family, but I’m going to start - using this crafting passion for the Lord.
And here is the first card I made:

I chose a stamp from Heidi-Mari’s Whiff of Joy collection.

A mother reading to her child.  It  fits the vision of Above Rubies to encourage mothers to have a vision to build into the lives of their children. Mothers who know motherhood is their highest calling. Mothers who invest not only in their children’s lives for this life, but also for eternal life!  Mothers who know they have the ability to change the world, by raising Godly children! What a calling!!

What is a more precious way to build into a child’s life than taking the time to read to him!
I asked Heidi-Mari to colour the stamp with her Promarkers (I can’t even colour a picture with crayons - I leave that to the children!) 

Around the stamp I made fake stitches.  While making the stitches, putting down the pen and picking it up again, it reminded me of moments when I have a positive influence on my children, but also times when I miss some golden opportunities to build into their lives.  The life of a mother is full of ups and downs.  There will be days you want to hold on forever, full of fun and special moments, then there will be days you may feel that you are not accomplishing anything at all.  Don’t be discouraged.  Keep working hard according to the grace of God in you, not your own strength, but what He gives to you.

Next to the images I made a soft pink bow and put a pearl in the middle to give it extra elegance. So often the world looks down on a stay at home mother, who ‘wastes’ her talents and gifts by not going out into the corporate world.  
A mother who value herself enough to stay at home and use her talents and gifts to create a safe haven for her husband and put all her time (24 hours a day) and energy into her children to make them everything they can ever be, is like a precious pearl hidden deep in the bottom of the ocean.

I gave the card a vintage, shabby look, by tearing the paper and using thick distressing, since being an Above Rubies mother, is going back to ancient times (the name of my blog), raising children and taking care of the home, loving and submitting to your husband like the Lord intended for women to do since the beginning of time, and in the process strengthening their families!

Motherhood is a very special season in a mother’s live.  Nancy Campbell, time and time again encourage mothers to not only love their children, but love Motherhood!  Yes, there is a difference.  All mothers love their children, but often mothers hope a certain fase of their child will pass so they can enter the next, hopefully better, easier stage. Dear mother enjoy every stage of your children, don’t just ‘endure’ each day, but seek to make it special.  You will never have these days with your children again. Enjoy your current season of Motherhood.  It will pass so quickly, then you will have more than enough time to do all the projects you want to and didn’t have time for in your mothering season! 

To emphasize the idea of Motherhood being a short, quick passing season, I used fall colours. Although in South Africa it is now spring, the rest of the world is entering fall.

I put the sentiment: “Thank You for Investing in Motherhood” on a tag and slide it behind the image. The idea is for the mother who receive the card, to use the tag as a bookmark and always be reminded to invest her time, energy, gifts, talents, love - her total self in Motherhood!  A mother who grows in her calling of motherhood and not only loves her children but motherhood too, will shine in the world, like the golden beads at the end of the rope I’ve threaded through two eyelids in the tag!
I put a little rosebud on the tag too.  The rosebud reminds me of the precious children whom we raise in our homes.  They are like delicate rosebuds in our hands and we make them or break them, by the way we handle them.  They trust us with their lives, God entrusted them to us!  Will we take care of them, with lovingkindness, tenderness, patience, passion, joy and enthusiasm and allow them to grow into mature, wise adults who live their passion and calling in live!

I’ve put small red flowers in three of the corners and left the fourth corner open, to give it an unbalanced look - being an ‘old-fashion’ stay at home mother who knows her calling by taking care of her husband, children and home, is off-balance with the World!  You will always be questioned, often revered to be weird, many times belittled, seldom be encouraged and never be part of the main steam! 

I also took part in a few challenges with this card, for motherhood is always a challenge.
And though mothers don’t always receive acknowledgement for their hours of labour, day and night, in this world, be encouraged, God is always watchful and a rewarder of those who serve Him by serving their husbands and children!
The challenges I took part in:
Whiff of Joy Challenge - Special Thank You
Stampin' Sisters in Christ - Use Fall Colours
Alphabet Challenge Blog - V for Vintage
ABC Challenge - D is for Distressing

To every Above Rubies Mother, may this card: 
Be a reminder of your highest calling;
An encouragement to go into your home and change the world through the children and husband, entrusted to you by God; 
Be a thank you for your service as a mother and faithful wife!

With love

20 September 2010

How Do You Cope?

On Friday night it was the girls’ ballet concert.  While helping the girls get dressed, Michael was in the ergo, close to me. 

Sometime during the evening a mother approached me with a Frequently Asked Question:  “How do you cope with 8 children?”  
For a second I couldn’t answer the question.  

Michael was teething again and I’ve only slept a few half hours during the night.  Useless to say it wasn’t a good day. I was physically and emotionally exhausted, Michael was irritated and grumpy, there were 7 more children in line for love, attention and unavoidable discipline, while preparing my girls for their biggest event in two years - their ballet concert! 

I wasn’t coping at all!! How was I suppose to answer the question?  For the love of me, I couldn’t put on a happy face and say it is all about priorities, children only come one-by-one or they are such a blessing - my regular (true) answer to the question!

Friday night Michael slept even worse than Thursday night. By Saturday morning, while feeling totally emotionless and knowing what a busy day was laying ahead, I remembered the question again.
The Bible says in 1 Pet 3:15: “...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”
What should I answer, Lord? How do I answer for the hope, when I’m feeling overwhelmed?  I would like to know for myself.
And then I clearly heard the Lord’s soft whisper: “ It is not about you my Daughter.  It is all about Me, My glory and your holiness.  For now it is all about making you holy, growing in patience and faith, no matter what the circumstances.”

Oh! How my spirit lifted with this encouragement from my Heavenly Father.  The only One who really know how exhausted I am, but who is planning everything for my good!
This is what the verse in 1 Tim 1:15 is all about!  "...Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” 
It has nothing to do with me - how I cope, how happy I am or how streamlined my life was! 

I once read: “God is more interested in your holiness and character, than your happiness.”
I know my heavenly Father has my best interests at heart, I just need to lean more on Him in my weakness and trust Him with my whole life, seeking His will for my live and be obedient to go out and do as He instruct me in His Word, no matter what the cost!

And it is all about God and His Glory - Eight (trusting for more) godly men and women will one day leave our home to go change the world for Jesus Christ! Not because Christo and I did such a good job as parents raising these children, but because of God’s grace and hand of protection and instruction were on our lives to raise them.
Sunday was a better day, already!  On Saturday night, Michael slept much better and since Christo, CJ and Josua went to watch the girl’s concert, I went to bed with my boys by eight and got a few extra hours of sleep!  
On these days I rejoice in the good work the Lord has started in me and on the less good days, I rejoice too. Then I know He will keep His promise in Phil 1 verse 6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Dear heavenly Father, please mold me and shape me as You think best for me to become Your spotless bride on the day of Your return!
With love

16 September 2010

Motherhood - Your Mission Field!

A few weeks ago I ran into an old friend.  He told me his wife and daughter just left for a mission trip up in Africa for two weeks. They were so excited for such a special time as mother and daughter together.
Later that afternoon, while taking care of dinner, taking laundry from the washing line and putting little people into the bath, I pondered on the privilege this friend’s wife has to be on a mission trip with her daughter.  I felt the grabbing fingers of envy crawling up my heart.  The possibility of having such a special time with Heidi-Mari or even Danika, was almost unthinkable!  My little ones need me every moment of the day and they will still do so for  some time in the future.  

I cannot imagine leaving the men alone, with little ones, while my daughters and I go on a mission trip, even if we do get the opportunity. But if I didn’t have all these little children, I could serve the Lord more tangible by going on mission trips...
Soon the envy was replaced by guilt. I would have loved to be able to serve the Lord by way of mission trips!  Oh, it is such a longing of my heart to sacrifice time and money by spreading the good news to those who haven’t heard it yet! After all isn’t that what Christianity is all about - evangelism? But due to my responsibilities as mother of many children it isn’t possible for me to evangelize anyone!  Oh Lord, I’m sorry I’m not available to serve you where it matters most!
And then as I picked up the laundry basket and entered the house, I clearly heard the Lord’s soft whisper in my soul: “My dear daughter, I’ve planned a lifetime mission trip for you, in taking care of, training and loving all the children I choose to bless you with.

Mighty men and women who will one day change the world, for Me! You ARE serving me where it matters most, you are busy evangelizing your children every minute of the day!
I stopped dead in my tracks and just stood in Awe! 
I then remembered two books I read a few years ago, written by Sally Clarkson, The Mission of Motherhood and the Ministry of Motherhood.  Already after reading the first few pages of both books, my way of thinking about motherhood and the children God gave me, was changed and had a great impact on me. But it was only after pondering and voicing my desire to serve the Lord in missionary trips, that it really hit home:  Motherhood is my Mission trip for Live!  
I don’t need to go on missionary trips to make an impact for the Lord!  Don’t get me wrong, it is wonderful if you have the opportunity, but as a stay-at-home-mother of young children, you don’t need to feel guilty and less valuable concerning your influence on the Kingdom of God! Right now it isn’t my calling to leave the home and go on a mission trip.  Right now, my calling is to have a life changing influence on the children the Lord has and will still give me! 

Maybe you as the mother of small children, also have feelings of guilt when hearing of people going on mission trips for the Lord, then I encourage you to read on. 
See, dear Mother, a mother’s calling, is the same as any other Christian’s: to live a purpose-filled life for God’s Glory!  The kind of purpose Jesus had for his disciples when He prayed the high priestly prayer the night before he was crucified.  He said, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world" (John 17:18)
After years of being a Christian I came to a conclusion of my purpose:  To use my life to reach others for him and to teach them what it means to know and follow him by understanding and obeying his Word!  Matthew 28:19-20 take it even further: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
In 1999 Christo and I was part of the launch of World Teach South Africa by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson and Walk Through the Bible Ministries.  Matthew 28:19-20 was the foundational verse for World Teach South Africa.  For years Christo and I taught hundreds of people side by side in the Cape Peninsula, from the Foundations of Faith, to The Biblical Portrait of a Marriage, Personal Holiness, The Testing of your Faith, Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs and many more courses by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson.  The purpose: to make disciples!

Then in 2004 we surrendered my womb to the Lord and I had a baby almost every year since.  I couldn’t teach with Christo anymore, but stayed at home with our little ones! It was tough for me to stay at home, while Christowitnessed people coming to Christ and Christians experiencing spiritual breakthroughs!  BUT one thing I remembered from Dr. Bruce Wilkinson’s teachings on Matthew 28: Jesus wasn’t asking his disciples to go into all the world and set up church buildings or youth groups or Wednesday night church suppers, but to make disciples - to cultivate spiritual relationships with people, to draw them to Christ and then train them to reach out to other people who would also be trained and able to make other disciples.  He was entrusting the messages and work of the kingdom of God into the hand of ordinary people who had come to know his love, righteousness and forgiveness.  
While staying at home, taking care of little ones, the process of discipleship, that Jesus modeled, had become a reality in my own life.  What Jesus had done with his disciples - living with them, loving them, forgiving them, instructing them, training them, serving them and thereby transforming the  foundation of their lives, was taking place in my home, with all my growing children around me!

My home has become a mission field!  It is part of God’s plan that I recruit my own children to drop the fishing nets of their own lives in order to embrace God’s purpose and mission.  But it can only begin when I am able to embrace with joy the mission of motherhood. 
The journey of the mission of Motherhood has filled me with purpose, peace, fulfillment and excitement.  In fact, I have come to believe that being a mother encompasses all that is best within me.
To embrace the mission of motherhood require that I understand God and His design for life.  God designed motherhood to be a deeply meaningful role. As a mother I have the opportunity to influence eternity by building a spiritual legacy in the lives of our children. To change future generations. Through my teaching and influence, moral values can be modeled and learned, love and kindness are taught and received, purpose and vision are ignited and passed on.  

Since in every child there is a profound need to be loved, cherished, cared for and protected by his/her very own mother.  And it’s not just a need but an important part of God’s design for shaping human beings according to His will.  
The real ability of a mother to secure such a spiritual legacy is based on the strength of her relationship with her child.  As we tenderly care for our children, meeting their needs, teaching them and guiding them, praying for them and modeling our faith, we are also anchoring their hearts to our home, our values and our beliefs.  These ties are built over a period of many years, through the small ways we spend the minutes of our days and the large ways in which we celebrate the momentous events of our lives.
I want to end with an excerpt from an encouraging letter I received years ago from a very special Mother.  For me, this letter sums up the whole mission of Motherhood:
‘I thought I’d drop you a little line today to encourage you in your high calling of motherhood.  Each one of your children is a special gift from God whom you are training for His divine purposes.

You are doing a mighty work.  There is nothing greater that you could be doing in the whole of the world.  Your work is for eternity.  

Your children are eternal souls who will live forever.  Not only are you training them for the purposes God has for them in this world, but you are also preparing them for the eternal world!  Wow! What a Mission!

How blessed you are to have your children around you.  I know that you often feel overwhelmed, but I want to remind you that in the midst of all the frustrations and tiredness, that this is a very precious time of your life.  

You may feel that you are just doing the same old thing every day, like Noah did the same old thing for 100 years - hammered, nailed and keep on building his ark.  He didn't have time to do all the things that everyone else was doing.  He just kept on slogging and being faithful, doing the same thing every day for all those years - but in doing so he condemned the world.  Yes, he changed the wold because he stuck with the job he was given to do!  He changed the world by doing the same thing day after day after day.  And at the same time he saved his family!
As you are faithful to raise Godly children, and build an ark for the saving of your house, you will condemn the world around you.  You are accomplishing far more than those who go out to seek a worldly career to the detriment to their highest calling.  Your influence goes on into the generations and even into eternity.

Isn’t it amazing that our daily faithfulness in the home will have its impact on earth and also for eternity?  It can change the world!  We have to remember that bearing and raising children is a long-term investment - in fact, an eternal one!  In a culture where everyone want everything to happen instantaneously, we must learn to think long term - for the future.

So rejoice and be glad in your high and noble calling!
Your are changing the World!

Remember, you have the most important career in the nation!

Saying YES to the mission of motherhood has certainly not meant giving up on missions - it is my mission!
With love 
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