19 April 2011

Making Easter Real for my Children!

It is so encouraging to experience the spiritual growth in our family every year!  Two years ago we did an Easter Lapbook with the little ones, Danika, Andrew and David.  

Last year we build on the Easter Lapbook knowledge.  

We had an Easter dinner and watched The Passion of Christ with the children.  Beautiful to see the impact the movie had on their hearts and souls. 
This year the Lord amazingly lead us to add more to the children’s understanding of His greatest gift to them!
Two weeks ago, I had to take Heidi-Mari to a very interesting craft shop in Northumberland street, Bellville.  While waiting to pay for our goodies,  the children drew my attention to a Wooden cross scene, exhibited on one of the small tables.  The children were fascinated by it. With their knowledge of Christ’s crucifixion, they were entertaining each other with what they knew about Jesus on the cross.  Then it was my turn to pay and within seconds I made the decision to get us the same scene.  Although there were a few impatient ladies behind me, waiting to pay for their goodies, too, I quickly enquired where I could find the crosses and the stand.  The children were over the moon and proudly walked out of the shop with their new priced possession!

The crosses we bought was just plain wood, but the crosses in the Craft Shop was decorated and painted and had a very interesting rustic look. Now it was my challenge to find the crafting stuff to decorate and paint our crosses to give it the same rustic look.  Fortunately there is another very popular crafting shop in Durbanville, near Christo’s health shop and I went in to ask for advise.  I took my wooden crosses with and tried to explain to them what end result I was looking for.  They immediately knew what I was talking about and gave me a coarse paste to cover the crosses with.
In the next few days, I would tell the children the crucifixion and resurrection story, illustrated on our felt board with felt characters

Then, with great excitement, we would cover our wooden crosses with the coarse paste. 

After we covered a certain part of the cross, we used a kitchen fork to add some texture. 

The day we decorated the stand, they went outside to pick up pebbles in my vegetable garden to mount in the paste.

By the end of the week the crosses were covered, dried and ready to be painted.  We experimented with different colours.  

First we spray-painted it with a grey colour, left over from a previous crafting project.  But it turned out to be blue, so I got black crafting paint.  Next we painted it with a dark brown colour and roughly painted it with a light brown to gave it a rusty look!  I was really impressed with the outcome!

CJ also twisted a small crown of thorns to put with the cross.
We at first thought it wouldn’t be necessary to paint the stand or ‘soil’ of Golgotha between the ‘rocks’, but after the paste dried, it didn’t look natural, so we started the patient, precise job of painting between the pebbles.  I just did a small section of it, when I had to stop to put little ones down for their afternoon naps.  Since we mixed different colour paints, to get the right colour for the soil and I didn’t want the paint to dry before I’m finished, I asked CJ to take over.  

When I came back I realized he’s doing a far better job than me, and deligated the job to CJ. He has the precision to paint between the pebbles!
In the mean time I opened a blog I don’t read often, but which has excellent postings and ideas.  Some of you might remember my posting, Naming a Year, by Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience.  In this specific posting Ann showed the Easter Garden they made. She beautifully compared the Garden of Eden, where “our beginning and mortal fall began” with a garden where “Christ’s beginning to right that fall began”. I was immediately fascinated by the idea of making an Easter Garden.  
On Friday afternoon after dropping CJ off at the horse farm and Heidi-Mari at Ballet classes, we were on our way to Stodels Garden Centre to buy small plants for our Easter Garden. On the way, I also stopped at a stationary shop, to buy modeling clay to make the tomb and stone that was in front of the tomb. 
The children was jumping up and down with excitement by the time we reached the Garden Centre.  I gave each one the opportunity to choose their own plant and we returned home, each one proudly with his or her plant on the lap! They couldn’t wait to make the Easter Garden!

On Saturday morning Josua mixed some soil and well matured compost, from our own compost heap and filled the pot.  

Then each one got a turn to plant his or her little plant!  

They had such a ball, concentrating on planting the plant, as well as posing for the camera, as I’m taking pictures, to capture the moment!

The previous evening CJ made the tomb and stone and some rocks out of the modeling clay and left it to dry.  

We covered the clay tomb, stone and rocks with waterproof coating and by Sunday afternoon it was all finished.  

This was such a fun activity and at the same time a life changing experience for each of our family members at their different level of understanding.

Easter will never be the same for me again, looking at the crosses, feeling the rustic texture under my skin, seeing the crown of thorns, imagining the sun getting darker, the earth quake, all while I stood at a distance, watching... 

The tomb in the beautiful garden, the large stone against the door of the tomb, it is so final and I feel the hopelessness of His disciples and the women whom He loved, their mourning for Jesus, their Master and Friend.

But then, I marveled with Peter as I saw the stone had been rolled away, the tomb is empty, the linen cloths lying by themselves... 

and I know Jesus is risen, and He commanded us to ‘Rejoice’ and I, like His disciples fall to His feet to worship Him - our Risen King!   
May you all experience the presence and peace of the Risen Jesus Christ, this Easter.

With love
I have linked this posting to Meaningful Easter: Tips, Ideas & Traditions at Impress your Kids.

"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."
John 3:16

17 April 2011

Guard your Hearts and Minds

On Friday morning I was in the bank to withdraw cash for the first time in years!  I have a debit card and almost never need hard cash. As I was standing in the long line, waiting for an available cashier, I was taken aback by how debt was being advertised in the most enticing way possible on all different levels!  We don’t have any loan except for our home and vehicles and I praise the Lord that I don’t need to visit the bank often.  If I was exposed to all the ‘wonderful things’ you can do with a loan, I’m not sure if I would have been able to stay out of debt for so long.
As I was driving home after visiting the bank, I thought of how we are enticed on every corner in every area of our lives, physically as well as emotionally and spiritually.  And if we don’t have safety regulations in place to guard our minds, we can very easily fall into temptations that can lure us away from the calling on our life, the true life God intend for us!  

Over the past week I had to double check my safety regulations in the temptation of becoming discontent with my life as a full time mother in comparison with godly women who have resigned from their responsibility of being a full time mother. For a moment these women’s ‘freedom’ and ‘the fun they have’ was luring me away from my joyful, but sacrificial life as the home schooling mother of my many, beautiful Blessings, like God called me to be!

There are three places you can use as reference on wisdom in living life:
Society and what the World wants you to be;
The church and how fellow brothers and sisters in Christ want you to be; and
The Word of God and what God wants you to be.

When it came to motherhood and being the wife God wants me to be, I’m not at all enticed by Society or the World any more, but I sure have a struggle to guard my mind, when I look at fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and how they interpret life.  
After this past week, I’ve realized again, I can only rely on God’s word to guide me in true wisdom of living a God honouring life!  

Here are a few of my favourite verses:
1 Corinthians 15:58
“Therefore, my beloved brehtren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” 
Jer. 6:16
“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therin, and ye shall find rest for your souls,...”
Deut 28:13
“And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and careful to observe them.”
2 Cor 10:5
“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,”
Gen 1:28
“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion...”
Ps. 127:3 
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.”
Mal 2:15
“But did He not make them one, 
Having a remnant of the Spirit?
And why one?
He seeks godly offspring.”

Ps. 127:4-5
“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.  Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them.”
Ps. 113:9
“He make the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.  Praise ye the Lord.”
Ps 128:3
“Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.”
Titus 2:4-5
“...admonish the young women to love their husbands, to lover their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husband, that the word of God may not be blaspheme.”
1 Tim. 5:14
“I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”
Prov. 31:27
“She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness.”
Is 40:11
“He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lambs with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young.”

Matthew 16:25
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it;
and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
Matthew 6:19-21
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves don not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:33
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Ps. 32:8
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will guide you with My eye.”
Pr. 14:1
“The wise woman builds her house, 
But the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”
Phil. 2:14-15
“Do all things without murmurings and disputing; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18
“In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Ps 37:3-4
“Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
In my battle to reestablish my contentment as a mother, trying to validate my choices, I was almost like the man described in James 1:5-8:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.  
For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;
he is a double-minded man, unstable in all is ways.”

After I filled myself with God’s truth, there was no doubt in my mind at all. I could testify of “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, which guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus.”   Phil 4:7
May these verses also bring you peace and contentment in your high calling of motherhood
With love
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good word.”
2 Tim. 3:16

09 April 2011

How I Long To Know You!

It is already four weeks since we’ve learned you are not with us anymore!  
Oh, how I miss you.  
Yes, I knew you so well.  
I look at your brothers and sisters and with certainty I can tell how sweet you would be.  
You become sweeter and have more personality the more you are.  
There are more to love you, more to teach you, more to keep you busy, more to comfort you when you get hurt, more to show you how to do things, more to introduce you to the wonderful world we live in. 
More hands to come rushing for help when you ask, more voices that encourage you, more excitement when you accomplish something, more loving eyes that follow you through your journey of life!

I watched your baby brother Michael early this morning laughing and playing on the bed, and I long to see you play with us.   
I looked into his deep blue eyes and I long to look into your blue eyes - all your siblings have deep blue eyes, would you too?  

I hold his chubby baby body and I long to hold you, with a deep ache in my heart!  
I saw his beautiful smile that crumbled my heart and I long to see your smile.

I watch your brother Josua, my ‘Always with a new plan, out of the box’ child. 
My son with life and that in abundance and I long to know the abundant life you would live.  
He is so full of fun, joy and passion, doing everything differently and I long to know how you would be different.  
For though all your siblings is so much the same, yet they are so different and so would you!

I look at your brother Andrew.  
My son with the clear cut purpose of changing the world and I’m experiencing a deep thankfulness for the purpose of your very short life in our lives.

I watch you brothers David and Daniel playing together, living in a world of imagination of their own and I long to see you play along. 
What dimension could you add to their imagination world?

I look at your oldest brother CJ, a fine young man, full of compassion, but a strong leader and my heart ache for the loss of not knowing you as a young man this side of life.

I watch your little sister, Danika and I long to know if you were the baby girl we were praying for, for months in advance.  
It is more difficult to think of you as my little girl, I’m so used to little boys playing all over the place. 
Or maybe I just try to protect myself from further loss -  thinking of you as my little girl, who would play dress-up with her sister.

I look at your creative and always available oldest sister Heidi-Mari and I long to know, if you were my little girl, what you would create.  
I long to have hours of enjoying creative beauty around the dining table, often till late at night! 

Oh, my dearest baby, I can almost see you in our big family, you would be overflown with love, laughter and friendship.  
I ‘see’ you talking, playing, exploring life.  
But I also know you were destined for this very short life and you have accomplished everything that was asked from you.  
I rejoice in knowing you for a very short period, carrying you under my heart for a very short time, but in my heart forever!

I’m looking forward in anticipation to eternity.  
An eternity to coming to know you, love you and experiencing everlasting life!

With all my love
Your mother

"To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;"
Eccl. 3:1;4

Can't wait for the time of laughter and dancing, on the streets of gold,
in the presence of our King!

03 April 2011

What is in a Name?

Last Christmas we gave our children the TV series Heidi!

As I eagerly watched the first few episodes with my little ones, I couldn’t help to think how the name Heidi is part of my life from as early as when I was only 6-7 years old!
I grew up on a farm in Bloemfontein in the Free State during the middle/late seventies. There wasn’t electricity available on our farm and TV was only just introduced to South Africa, thus we didn’t have TV, either. It was during this time that the Heidi series (translated into my mother tongue - Afrikaans) was released and we came to know about it through family.  It was broadcasted on Tuesday evenings and my Dad would drive my sister and myself to my Grandparents several kilometers away to watch the 30min episode of Heidi.  It was the highlight of the week for us. We could not imagine missing one episode and Daddy diligently took us every week! 
Then one Tuesday afternoon, as we were ready to jump in the car, friends of my parents arrived, unaware of our plans to go watch Heidi at my grandparents.  That Tuesday evening two little girls cried for an hour in disappointment for missing Heidi!  That week my dad bought us a TV.  We already had a generator on the farm to provide electricity for lights, hair dryers, etc. and it was able to provide enough electricity to run the TV.   What a joy to watch Heidi in the comfort of our own home!

The years went by, we grew up and Heidi was a very pleasant childhood memory.  In 1991 Christo and I got married and early 1993 I was overjoy to discover I was pregnant!  But my joy was only for a short while, as it ended in a miscarriage at 8 weeks, the end of April!  I was devastated.  Since we got married I longed to have a baby of my own and I was so afraid I would not be able to have babies, although the miscarriage was due to tick fever, diagnosed a week later.  It took me weeks to recover from the tick fever and miscarriage and to worsen my emotional state, Christo was due to leave for Europe in August. The year before he was also in Europe for ten days and I missed him so much! I was dreading the time he would be away, especially since I was still not pregnant and trying to recover from the tick fever.  
At the beginning of July, Christo came home, announcing he is going to take me with him to Europe!   He cared too much to leave me alone under the circumstances.  It was just what I needed to pull me back to reality - going to Europe for 10 days!  The Lord provided through my dear husband, something else to focused on! Christo only needed to be in the city Neuchatel in Switzerland for two days, for medical equipment research, the rest of the time we would enjoy the beauty of Switzerland and even planed to visit Paris and Euro Disney!  
It was an amazing, blessed time! 

Long summer days in the breath taking mountains of Switzerland. 

We walked along rumbling glacier milk rivers.  
In Switzerland we stayed in Lauterbrunnen, Gstaad and Neuchatel. 

We peeped into every available watch shop , choosing a coo-coo watch to hang against my wall at home.
After being in Neuchatel we headed for France and stayed in Euro Disney for three days.  

We reserved one day for Paris and I walked until I could not walk anymore and wished I could crawl (that was after I’ve already taken off my shoes and walked barefoot!)  

We looked down on Paris from the Eiffel tower and Arc the Triumph, did shopping in the Galleries Lafayette and visited the Opera house.

We ate French fries at the side walk of the Av Des Shamps-Elysees (costing us a small fortune!) visited the Notre Dame, bought me two original hand paintings on our way back from the Eiffel tower and Christo and I posed for a sketch (not very real) but a nice, very expensive souvenir to take home!  
We laughed like children in Euro Disney and Christo bought me a huge Mickey and Minny Mouse to take home!

The last day we drove through Titisee-Neustadt in Southern Germany and ate apple strudel and black forest cake! 
It was unavoidable to visit Switzerland and not think back to my childhood story Heidi!  

One  particular day I was staring into the breath taking mountains and praying to the Lord to please give me a little girl, who I can name Heidi!  

On the exact same day, a year after we returned from our blessed time in Europe, our first son was born. 

I was totally overjoyed, holding my tiny little baby in my arms!  After CJ I had another two miscarriages, before a little girl was born in July 1997! 

The girl I prayed for, almost 4 years ago in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland.  I knew we would call her Heidi, but since both Christo and my mother’s names were Marie, we decided to call her Heidi-Mari - I just loved the name!
But this is were my dream stopped!  Heidi-Mari was a colic baby who cried constantly the first year of her life!  At six months we took her to a homeopath and she was diagnosed with an extreme sensitivity to diary and MSG.  She definitely cried less, after I took diary and MSG out of my diet, but she was still a high need baby!  I just couldn’t bond with this little girl and I saw   my dream of having a little girl who will be my best friend, my own little Heidi would scatter into pieces! 

I was ready to do anything to change the situation.  I was pondering the possibility that the name ‘Heidi’ was a curse on my little girl.  Taking in account the sad story of the Heidi-character, a little girl who lost her parents at one year of age, her grandpa who didn’t want her at first, her aunt who took her away while she was so happy with her grandpa and her longing for her grandpa and friends, while in Frankfurt! Then there was my own sad circumstances of longing for a little girl, after my first miscarriage.  December 2000 we decided to stop calling her Heidi-Mari, but only Mari!  This wasn’t without a lot of misunderstanding from family and explaining to friends and our own struggle to get use to the new name, me secretly longing to still call her by the beautiful name Heidi-Mari!  
Then in 2003 while pregnant with our 4th child, I bought a book on the meaning of names!  Josua was born in 2000 and we were surprised how this little boy was walking in the meaning of his name!  We wanted to pray about the name of our 4th child and make sure it had a meaning that will enhance the calling on her live!  It was only then that we discovered the meaning of Heidi-Mari’s name!  Heidi meaning honored and blessed! 

Heidi-Mari was now 6years old, called Mari for just over 2years, but still we just couldn’t bond and I was still mourning the loss of the beautiful name Heidi-Mari!  Just there and then we decided to change her name back to Heidi-Mari!  Oh what a joy it was.  We explained to her what made us change her name and asked her what she would like to be called!  She immediately asked to be called Heidi-Mari!
Knowing the meaning of Heidi - honored and blessed, something changed in my heart too!   The Bible verse going with her name is Ps 29:11
“The Lord will give strength unto his people;
the Lord will bless his people with peace.”

Every time I called her name, I pictured the blessing she is for me and every one else in her life and the honour she’s destined to bring the Lord through her life!  The power of God’s Word came to life!  
Today Heidi-Mari almost 14 years old and such a blessing to this family!  

I cannot imagine running our household and raising my babies without Heidi-Mari!  She is my best friend, we enjoy hours of crafting, baking and cooking together and she now and then helped out in the health shop.
Today I know my little girl was destined to be Heidi-Mari. The Lord called her  Heidi-Mari, even before I knew her name and I rejoice in Him for guiding us back to her original name - An honored young woman, a blessing to the Lord! 
Since this incident we prayerfully choose the names of our children!  As my children grow and mature, they amazingly walk in the calling of their names!  
CJ is Christo Johannes, a Follower of Christ, gracious, with a very special anointing and inward strength that makes him a leader;
Josua is our General and a bringer of Truth, since a very young age he showed insight in spiritual issues, above his age;
Danika our little morning star princess and since birth so attentive;
Andrew is a living testimony of Ps 27:1
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” He is courageous and enduring and I’m waiting in anticipation to see what the calling on his life is; 
David is the king, strong but with a sweet, loving spirit, obedient and always ready to repent. Even his physical qualities, distinguishes  him as a king.
For Daniel we speak discerning and righteousness into his life;
and for Prince Michael high estimation and praises for His God!
We’re consciously aware of the meaning of our children’s names and deliberately call them on their names so the purpose of their lives can come in action!
Never underestimate the Power of Words and even more the power of a name!

"... I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My Hands;
Your walls are continually before me."
Is 49:16

With Love
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