22 November 2010

Speak Gently!

I recently read this article which is by far the most helpful article I've ever read on the subject of 'speak gently'!

"Not many of us possess the natural ability to command our own emotions and thereby bring peace to a factious situation. The issue that concerns many of us as mothers is our tendency to raise our voices and become angry with our children. It causes us concern, shame, even heart-felt sadness. 
I believe that the root of what causes us to blow up and resort to anger when attempting to get control of a situation or a child is rooted in insecurity
Sometimes, not wanting to be bothered by them, we choose to please ourselves when our children get in the way of our immediate interests--whether it be talking on the phone, going out with friends, crafting, computer time, or even getting some needed sleep (as mothers we know this is often a luxury, don't we?). 
After a season of neglecting to correct with confidence and finality, our children become the typical, out-of-control youngsters that cause us to lose control.
Common fear and worry are also some of the obvious sources of anger we extend to our children. Money, relationship, and health concerns can cause us to tense up and react to those around us. It is at these times that we not only raise our voices, but also use expletives to punctuate our points. Like Cain, we give in to a frustrated spirit which leads to devastating results.
Outside pressure can also cause us to errupt in many instances. 
I am reminded here of how in the animal kingdom--mothers react negatively to prying eyes. These creatures must have privacy in order to care for their little ones. It is sad that we have been deceived to believe that we need some sort of "village" in order to raise human babies. Every new expectant mother soon learns of the many "opinions" that exist in society regarding child rearing, as she receives unsolicited input from a myriad of "experts". It can be overwhelming. Then, after the baby is born, she hears the noise of all these voices rushing in to confuse her.
Comparing ourselves with others will also lead us to react.
Being thankful and content will go a long way towards helping us become the mothers of our dreams, and having well-behaved children. We need to appreciate our circumstances, our husbands, and even ourselves for who they (we) are, and allow God to feed, nurture and provide for our needs, even though all we have to work with are a few fish and loaves. 
This is why our relationship with God must be our anchor.
In summary, we simply need to get out of the habit of raising our voices."

Read Sherry’s whole article and how to break the habit of raising our voices, here. I’ve already read it three times in a row, I’ve put it into practice today and I’m going to bed tonight with a peaceful heart!
With love

21 November 2010

Above Rubies - From Me to You!

During the past 5 years sending out the Above Rubies magazine has become a highlight in our family's lives and we developed a production line to make it happen smooth and effective. Since it is our family ministry, everyone who can read, that is from Danika and older is part of the operation!

On Friday night we started packing Above Rubies #79 into envelopes.  Currently we send out about 4,000 magazines to 600 subscribers in South Africa and neighbouring countries.

The operation starts days before the packing, when I clean up the address list (new subscriptions and address chances) and print the labels.  Danika and Josua puts the labels on the envelopes, while Christo, CJ and Heidi-Mari put the magazines into the envelopes. We use pre-paid envelopes, which saves money, we get 5% discount on buying 500 envelopes and saves LOTS of time, no need to put stamps on the envelopes.  
As a rule we send out at least 2 magazines to every subscriber.  You never know when the Lord may lay it on your heart to give a specific issue to a friend or family member or even a stranger in the supermarket and we don’t want you to give away your one and only, precious copy.  Back issues of Above Rubies are seldom available and it has happened before that not one copy was left, even before a next issue was printed.  We therefore encourage our subscribers to take more than two copies - to hand out or to keep. I currently keep 10 copies of each issue, for my children and can’t wait to hand them a treasure of wisdom on being a Godly wife and mother, the day they get married.   
On each address label, the amount of issues required by the subscriber, is printed and Christo, CJ and Heidi-Mari put that amount of magazines into each envelope.  When Josua and Danika are finished putting address labels on envelopes, they too will put magazines in envelopes. 
As soon as the magazines are in the envelopes, I update each subscriber’s address card on my computer.  This way I make sure an Above Rubies subscriber’s magazine doesn’t get lost somewhere in the process of label printing and posting and I double check the amount of magazines to each subscriber.  When we packed the previous issue, #78, I couldn’t update the address cards, due to a lot that happened in our family during that time.  Unfortunately some Above Rubies subscriber’s didn’t receive their Above Rubies.  

If you are a regular subscriber, please check if you have received Above Rubies #78, if not, please contact me and I’ll send it out immediately.
After I’ve checked a subscribers’ amount of magazines in the envelope and added the new information to her address card, the envelopes are sealed and a returned address is stamped on the back of the envelope.  Josua and who ever are finished putting magazines in envelopes will seal the envelopes and Danika is in charge of the return address. 

Then we still have to do the neighbouring countries, who have different envelopes.  The most economical way to send these magazines are for the envelopes to not exceed 300g.  That means 5 magazines per envelope.  Ten magazines in two envelopes cost less than ten magazines in one envelope!

CJ is responsible for bulk orders.  I give him the bulk order address labels and he prepare the boxes.  We use the boxes in which we received the magazines from America for our bulk orders, but these boxes carry 350 magazines and our bulk orders most of the time are between 50 and 100 magazines.  Thus CJ has to cut and change the box to the right size - no easy job, taken in account we had 11 bulk orders this time!
The post office also requires an extra label for bulk orders and I try to fill them out as soon as I finish the address cards on my computer.

The last stretch, is taking the envelopes and boxes with bulk orders to the post office.  That is Christo’s job and again no easy one.  He will get a grocery trolley at the shopping mall and load all the local envelopes in the trolley to hand over to the post office personal.  The neighbouring country’s envelopes and bulk orders are a little more time consuming - it also requires a second trolley.  Every envelope and package has to be weighed at the counter, the amount of stamps calculated and needs to be stuck to the package (at the counter....)
Finally I put the bulk order tracking numbers in the computer as reference.  Only now I can say another Above Rubies magazine has successfully been posted!
And this is what kept us busy this weekend.  Hard work - Yes!  Satisfying job - Yes, Yes, Yes!
It is such a privilege to send out this encouraging magazine to families in South Africa and to know God is touching lives through this ministry!

To all our South African and neighbouring country’s Subscribers, may this Above Rubies bless you and encourage you in your high and noble calling as wife and mother!
With love

14 November 2010

A Special Weekend with a Bonus!

This past weekend was a very special weekend!  

We celebrated my Father-in-Law’s 80th Birthday.  Dad had the privilege to celebrate this special birthday, with the wife of his youth for more than 50 years, special friends, some of whom for more than forty years, his son, daughter and ten grandchildren at Neethlingshof Wine Estate near Stellenbosch on a perfect, wind still day! 

The name tags Heidi-Mari made for each guest

The highlight of the weekend, was Michael that started crawling on his Grandpa’s birthday!  

For the past week or two, Heidi-Mari would playfully encourage Michael to crawl every afternoon, while I made the boys asleep. Thus we were expecting him to start crawling any day and I was closely watching him, in anticipation, when he played on the floor next to me.  How big was the excitement when he reached for a book and took the first two ‘crawling steps’!
I’m always amazed at the excitement of the whole family when one of our baby’s start crawling.
From experience we know, we are now entering a new season with a baby crawling every where and getting into all sorts of trouble. 

But that is what I love about motherhood - entering the same season for different children and experiencing it totally different, because it is a total different person. A unique person made by God, for a unique purpose! 

Thank you God for the privilege to be center in the development of my children.

Please give me the kindness, grace and wisdom to train every special child, you entrusted to me, for his/her very specific work in your kingdom!
With love

05 November 2010

Walking Memory Lane

Since 2003 we have been going to Knysna for our vacations.   We love the beautiful garden route along the South African coastline.
Every time we went, we took pictures of our family at The Heads in Knysna and by now it has become a tradition. As I was looking at the pictures we took over the past 7 years, I was filled with thankfulness and praises to the Lord, for blessing us more than I could ever have imagined!

August 2003
Danika was our baby and only 8 weeks old, Heidi-Mari 6yrs, Josua 3yrs and CJ 9yrs.  When I look at my children I cannot believe how much they look alike.  Danika is now 7 years old and look just like Heidi-Mari at that age.  
This holiday was our first in five years and signified the turning point of a very difficult financial, physical, emotional and spiritual time of our lives.  Before this holiday, I thought we would never be able to own a car or house of our own again, let alone go on holiday!  CJ and Josua, both celebrated their birthdays while on this holiday and had very special memory making moments.  
Before we went to Knysna, CJ did a unit study on Knysna, a little about it’s history and the tourism attractions - the forest, the rare indigenous trees, the wood and furniture industry, the gold rush of 1885, the Knysna elephants, George Rex - the founder of Knysna, the sea horses and oyster farms. 
While in Knysna we got a tour through a saw mill; visited the Knysna elephant Park; drove up to Millwood in the Knysna forest, near Homtini, to see what was left of the town which grew tremendously during the gold rush and then died just as quick again; visited the old churches in Knysna and Belvedere, went to the oyster farm, where CJ and Christo even tasted very fresh, live oysters - it didn’t go down well, to say the least!  We even managed to see whales a few hundred meters into the sea at Plettenberg Bay.
In the picture Danika is sucking my pinkie finger and is so content.  She was my baby who could be soothed the easiest by giving her my pinkie finger to suck on, when it wasn’t possible to nurse her right away.  When I happened to drive and she started crying, she would even sucked CJ’s pinkie finger.
This holiday will always be one of THE holidays!

April 2005
I'm 32 weeks pregnant with Andrew. Josua is 4yrs, Danika 22months, Heidi-Mari 8yrs and CJ 11yrs old.
During this holiday we stayed at Brenton On Sea in a beautiful raised log chalet.  What I cherished most about this holiday was the quiet evenings (after the children went to bed) with Christo on the balcony of the chalet, looking out over the dark sea with it’s constant rhythm of waves in our ears.  
Since I was in my 7th month of pregnancy, we didn’t drive much, the weather was good and we mostly went down to the beach, but I had to climb 100 steps down and back up again! The children had hours of fun in the sun, boogie boarding and flying their kites.  At one stage I tried my hand at the kite too, but lost my balance and fell!  Everyone had a terrible fright and I thought my waters had broke!  Christo ran up the stairs and fetched our vehicle and tried to get as near as possible to the beach, so I didn’t need to walk the steps.  After Christo picked  Danika and me up, and rushed us to our chalet, my courageous oldest son, CJ only 11 years old, took responsibility for Heidi-Mari and Josua and got them safely up the stairs back at the chalet! 
My waters didn’t break and after a warm bath and tucked in bed early, I was all well again!
The rest of the holiday was pure bliss and we were hooked on Brenton on Sea! 

September 2008
Since our last visit to Knysna, 3 1/2 years past. During the time between our Knysna holidays the Lord added Andrew, David and Daniel to our family!
Daniel was 6 weeks old, Andrew 3yrs, Danika 5yrs, CJ 14yrs, Josua 8yrs, David 22months, Heidi-Mari 11yrs old.
Since we had so many little people, the raised Log chalet, with all the steps up to the chalet and inside the chalet wasn’t practical anymore.  We stayed at a log cottage on ground level and since we mentioned we had 7 children, they gave us a cottage at the outside of the group of cottages more to the side, with more running space for our children!
We visited the Knysna Elephant park again and also Monkey Land just outside Plettenberg Bay!  When Daniel was born I bought an Ergo and a special missionary couple who went to America to have their 5th baby, sent it back to me!  I carried baby Daniel in the Ergo where ever we went. Even on the beach I could carry him in the Ergo and he was protected against the wind and sun.

Our family reconnected during this holiday. Over the past 3 1/2 years a lot has happened in our home and we could just be with each other, rubbing our fingers over our children’s hearts, filling cracks with love and attention! We had perfect weather and the little ones played for hours in the sand next to me, while Christo and the older children boogie boarded and had fun in the waves!  In the evenings we had a ‘braai’ (barbecue), having ‘stokbrood’ (bread dough rolled over a stick, grilling over the open fire) and melted marshmallows dipped in chocolate flakes! 

October 2010
Since the last picture in 2008, the Lord added little Michael to our family!
Josua 10yrs, Daniel 2yrs, David 4years, Michael 9months, Danika 7yrs, Heidi-Mari 13yrs, Andrew 5yrs and CJ 16yrs.
Although we went for the 5th time to Knysna and in the same cottage as 2008 and 2009, it was a total new experience.  We prayed for weeks for the weather, but the Lord knew better. We needed time close together and we got more rainy days than sunshine.  The first day or two we panicked, but then made peace with God’s best for our family and had a wonderful time together! We celebrated David's 4th birthday, played board games and went to see things we never did before.  The three days at the beach were champagne clear days, with no wind at all and just the right temperature to play in the water! This year even I could go boogie boarding - in the past I was either pregnant or had my hands full with a new born baby! 
By now our family knew the routine and what were expected of each one and with the least effort we had such a relaxing, restful holiday!  
This time Josua studied Knysna and we visited specific places as part of his learning experience, but more on that in a separate posting.
I praise the Lord for the ability to look back on my life and count my blessings!  
The Lord blessed me with a very special family - unique children, who each contribute to my character and experience of life and fill my days with love and laughter, not giving me one dull moment!
But most of all, the Lord blessed me with a husband of faith!   A man of God who trusts Him in providing for our family and who leads us in God’s ways!  A man who loves me like his own body and lays down his life to take care of me and our children! 
I’m a blessed woman! 
With love
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