31 July 2011

Seasons and an Update on the Lues Family 2011

My 200th Blog Posting!  

Wow, Thank you to all my Blog friends for reading my ramblings and for taking the time to comment.  I really love to hear from you.

It is almost 18 months since I did an update on the Lues Family.  So much has happened since February last year.  When I have to describe it with a sentence, it would be: “I came to know a little more about the Lord’s Seasons.” talked about in Ecclesiastics 3:
Everything Has Its Time
 To everything there is a season,
      A time for every purpose under heaven: 
        A time to be born, 
And a time to die; 
      A time to plant, 
And a time to pluck what is planted; 
       A time to kill, 
And a time to heal; 
      A time to break down, 
And a time to build up; 
       A time to weep, 
And a time to laugh; 
      A time to mourn, 
And a time to dance; 
       A time to cast away stones, 
And a time to gather stones; 
      A time to embrace, 
And a time to refrain from embracing; 
       A time to gain, 
And a time to lose; 
      A time to keep, 
And a time to throw away; 
       A time to tear, 
And a time to sew; 
      A time to keep silence, 
And a time to speak; 
       A time to love, 
And a time to hate; 
      A time of war, 
And a time of peace
This is so what I’ve experienced the past 18 months.

We had the joy of a newborn baby;

the blessing of a Mauritius vacation

the challenge of homeschooling

the excitement of another Knysna family vacation;

the overwhelming emotions of an Andre Rieu concert; 

the welcoming surprise of another life in my womb, but then the devastating moment of learning that we will only have the privilege of knowing That Life, in the Life To Come.
Since we lost our Unborn Baby in March this year, I’m on a roller coaster of emotions.  Especially since I’m already in my 40’s and I’m sensing the Lord is gently pushing me into a new season. 

I thought I would be strong enough to take the winds that announces the turn of the season.  But the past few months, with the signs of a new season dawning on to me, I came to know I’m not ready to leave the season I’m in, neither am I prepared for the new season!
For years I struggled to understand, figure out and make peace with the season the Lord put me in.  Yes, it didn’t come naturally to me.  For years I had to renew my mind constantly to align myself with God’s purpose for my life.  

Being pregnant, having babies, surrendering my womb to the Lord, partaker in Life giving together with all the exhausting, exciting, overwhelming and joyful emotions that comes with it.  And so, just when I embraced the season I’m in, its all changing again!
I’m most probably entering a new season.  But what is my purpose in the next season?  

I was so busy trying to understand the purpose of the current season of Life-Giving-Fruit-Bearing, I never thought about the next season. Life is now, 

enjoying every moment of every day, though some days are more about surviving the day. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow still has to come.  God want us to live this season, not longing for seasons gone by, or living in an unreal world of tomorrow. But now, with a new tomorrow almost here, I’m kind of lost.  Why do life have to be so complicated? What will this new season be asking from me? What will be the sacrifices of this new season? Oh, I do know there will be fruit, much more than in the previous season, and I’m so looking forward to it, but pruning comes before fruit bearing. 

And pruning is painful, challenging, dying to self, little by little.  
And though I have no idea what the new season is all about, it is kind of exciting to have a glimpse on the new season.  Children entering young adult life.
CJ turns 17 in the next few days.  

Wow, how I enjoy this young man in my home.  I not only love this Firstborn of mine to bits, I also like him so much!  He reminds me of his Dad, and that is so comforting.  Strong, steady, calm and a Leader.  But there is also something of my Dad; his love for horses, his sense of humor with a bit of mischief.  And there is something of myself, perseverance.  

Over the past year, CJ experienced many ups and downs in the horses.  He took part in the 2010 Junior SA Show Jumping Championships, but his horse got an eye infection weeks before the championships. Days before they had to leave for Port Elizabeth, the Vet declared Mary unfit to take part. A dear friend offered her horse for CJ to take to the championships. CJ and XP was privileged to have one practice (yes, only one) before they left for the championships. 

But CJ’s calm and relaxed personality, together with his gifting with horses, provided him a great time and he earned very valuable experience.  They started planning for the 2011 Junior Show Jumping SA Championships, when the owner of Mary decide to withdraw her from show jumping and CJ was without a horse.  But the Lord is never caught off guard.  CJ’s previous trainer had two horses that needed a rider and CJ currently had his hands full riding two horses.  

The reality though was, that he had to start all over again by training a new horse. I sense that this is all about training in this season of his life, training his perseverance.  
He also got the once in a lifetime opportunity to be a Stunt Jumping Rider for a movie shoot. 

He enjoyed every moment of it with the vitality of a young teenage boy!  In his studies, he is diligent and purposeful, which make my work as his educator very satisfying.
Then there is the young lady who is developing in my home - Heidi-Mari who just turned 14.  

Oh, how gracious the Lord was the day He gave me this girl, who is truly in the transforming phase of being a lady.  She is my best friend and co-worker in the home. 

She is a true friend to her siblings, but also my right hand in looking after her siblings.  So much so that she and her brother CJ looked after them for 7 days with only a little adult support, while we were blessed with our Mauritius vacation.
Heidi-Mari started her own crafting blog last year, she became a Design Team Member for two Card Making Challenges and this month she started her own Baking Challenge.  She is making small steps towards walking in her calling of being a Virtuous Woman and that is so precious to witness.  
Josua my almost 11 year old is showing signs of growing in his own identity.  

My ‘Thinking-Out-Of-The-Box-Boy’ - he does not know of the existence of a box!  
Danika is walking in the footsteps of her sister, but with a strong personality of her own.  

She also started her own crafting blog a month ago and crafting evenings are now devoted to her.
And then there are my four, full of energy, 

keep me on my toes 

and alive little boys, Andrew, David, Daniel and Michael. 
Andrew just turned 6 and is surely leaving his toddler steps behind and has started walking the path of a young boy!  

How precious to witness that stage again, a time of developing his personality. Asking many questions, reasoning and thinking in his unique way.  
Little David, four years, is walking more and more in the calling of his name! 

He is an individualist, he needs nobody’s approval to do what he believe is right - a challenge in itself for his parents (!) - but so sensitive, with his sweet spirit.  
Daniel at three (tomorrow on the 1st), is only my older baby!  

Oh, he still needs me so much, though it is so easy to forget he needs me.  He’s still chubby like a baby, looks like a baby, experience life like a baby, and when he looks at me with his precious big baby face, everything in me crumble and I embrace my sweet little boy!
And then there is baby Michael. 

In only two months from now, he would not have been my baby anymore, that is if our precious unborn baby stayed in my womb.  But in the Lord’s wisdom He decided Michael will still be my baby at 18 months, unlike his three older brothers. They all had a younger sibling between the age of 16 and 20 months.  
And then the Lord gently reminds me of the second part of Ecclesiastics 3:
“The God-Given Task
What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.
  I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.
      I know that whatever God does,        It shall be forever.        Nothing can be added to it,        And nothing taken from it.        God does it, that men should fear before Him.        That which is has already been,        And what is to be has already been;        And God requires an account of what is past.”
I praise the Lord for little Michael who is still my baby, maybe my last, a very precious gift....  

One whom I can still cherish and hold, care for, while I don’t know when my current season will end and when the new season will dawn.  
But one thing I do know, in the new season, even more than the current, God will, through this broken vessel do things that will be forever.  

Every season is beautiful, every season has a God Given purpose if we keep eternity in our hearts.
And therefore I will rejoice and do good, and in due time, enjoy the good of the labor of  yet another God-given season. 
With love


"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;
his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Ps 1:3

27 July 2011

Age and the Second Language!

Some time ago I received an e-mail asking my opinion on what age is an appropriate age to start reading and writing a second language.  
Before I answer the question, It is very important to mention this is my way of homeschooling.  Homeschooling is a very personal issue.  The ideas I’m sharing here is what works for our family, with our family structure, for our family size, with all the different personality characteristic of our family, our learning style preferences, and my preferences and shortcomings as a teacher. 

Take out of this posting what is suitable to you and throw out the rest and if you don’t agree, just let it pass.
My answer, taking in account we are an Afrikaans family and English is our second language, will also most likely differ from English families, whose second language might be Afrikaans or a European or African language.
English is the language of the world.  Wherever you turn or go, you need or hear English.  My children are exposed to English from the day they are born through electronic entertainment and electronic media!  Andrew my 6 year old speaks English with a proper English accent which I can only dream off, since I’m an Afrikaans girl from the Free State, and I grew up before TV was a regular visitor in every home.
All this said and done, I only start English, the second language when my children are at least nine years old, or fully in control of their mother tongue!  I remember years ago when CJ, my oldest son the one who had to spearhead life for his siblings to follow, told me about his friend. who at the age of 8  started to learn English, second language, in grade 2.  We were still in the process of learning our Afrikaans phonetics and I didn’t give thought to English in my wildest dreams! 
In our homeschooling journey I follow the path of Better Late Than Early. 

My children, especially the boys, must play while they are little boys.  Until they are ten years of age, I don’t expect them to do more than an hour’s work of language and maths. 

We will have fun with lapbooks, arts and crafts and read aloud, but formal learning is more or less an hour.  We learn reading in our mother tongue, the phonic way and not by sight words. 

From our 3 year old to Danika (8) enjoy playing with phonics and Call-out-a-word-starting-with..., look at pictures, name the word and identify the beginning sound, etc. 

Only after I’m convinced my nine/ten year old has a solid foundation of the phonics of his/her mother tongue, able to read easy reading books fluently,

and without hesitation can write in his/her first language, will I introduce the phonics of a second language, for us, English.  That might mean my child is already in ‘grade 4’!  I use Adventures in Phonics by Florence M. Lindstrom  Level A and Level B books.  The simple way it introduced phonics to my children made reading and spelling in the second language a piece of cake, without frustration and keeps learning fun!

By the time they are finished with Level B they can almost fluently read English and are ready for LLATL Red, the curriculum we use for English.  Since my children only start the second language at the age of nine/ten, LLATL blue is far to childish for them and I’ve experienced it doesn’t concentrate so much on phonics, since it is written for the first language.  But after they’ve mastered Level A and B of Adventures in Phonics, they are ready for the second LLATL book and the books that follow.  
The most interesting of starting with the second language later, is how fast they master the language, with very little effort!  I was still busy teaching Josua my almost 11 year old the English phonics 18 months ago, when Christo mentioned to me, that he was already reading the Tintin books all by himself.  I didn’t notice!  Now 18 months later he is correcting his Mother’s pronunciation, when we are reading out loud in English! LOL! 

Since they master the second language so quickly, though starting at a later age is not a problem, it is easy for them to catch up when thinking in terms of grades.  
I guess part of the swift way my children learn English as their second language is because all our Homeschool resources are English.  We do Maths-U-See, not available in Afrikaans, but in my opinion the best maths program for my visual learning children.  I know it is of uttermost importance that children learn maths in their mother tongue, so I translate all the DVD teachings and translate all the maths problems into Afrikaans until at least the 11th or 12th year.  But, when Mother has a very busy day and doesn’t have time to translate the maths problems, they cannot proceed with their maths.  This is enough of a motivation to master the English Language.  The same is true for their Science.  
At the age of ten, we will start with the Young Explorer Series (Creation based Science) and we just started a Footprints of South Africa e-book (for History and Geography), all in English.  In the busy home we have with many little children, all demanding Mother’s attention, the older children just have to master their second Language to satisfy their hunger for information!  Then there is the internet and Science magazines too.  If they are not able to read and understand English, they miss out big time!

I guess the secret is motivation.  And though I’ve been frustrated with English being our second language, having the implication of me having to translate everything the first 10 years, especially lapbooks for the little ones, I guess it is a blessing in disguise, forcing my children to be bilingual at a very young age!  
My word of advice for families learning a second language? After the basics of a second language has been taught, find a very interesting resource in that language, then try to stay a little in the background and force them to figure it out on their own. But most important, don’t start to young with the phonics!
With love

17 July 2011

Need a bit of daily encouragement and motivation?

Christian wives everywhere have a burning desire to live for our Lord.  Many though, are overwhelmed and discouraged.  Knowing that this is not what the Lord has for His children, they search for encouragement in their highest calling, that of being a wife and mother.  

The word of God has much to say about believers encouraging and building one another up.  "Iron sharpens iron."  Join Jennifer @ Morning Motivation for FREE, weekdays, July 18th through July 22, each morning at 8:00am central time for "Morning Motivation!  Daily Encouragement for Christian Wives"
Each morning participants will have the opportunity to submit live questions and comments, and get live answers about anything and everything relevant to homemakers.  There will be surprise guest hostesses throughout!
Wednesday, July 20th, Jenny from A Mother's Heritage, will join me as a guest hostess, and will be speaking on "How to keep going joyfully, when everything you do quickly un-does"
Some topics will include: 
  • the need for appreciation 
  • the need for fulfillment 
  • organization 
  • doing what seems mundane over and over again 
  • patience 
  • overcoming laziness 
  • finding time to clean with small children 
  • time management 
  • motivation 
  • household tasks
  • getting everything done each day
  • what to do when you're overwhelmed
  • and so much more! 
3 weeks of daily encouragement! The 3 weeks will begin Monday July 18th. 
Sessions will take place weekday mornings, July 18, 2011 through July 22nd from 8:00 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. (Central Time).  And July 25th through August, 5, 2011, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. (Central Time).  Those registered will be able to chat in questions live, with full access to MP3 recordings if you can't tune in for the live version. The cost is FREE for the first week, and $11 per household for the remaining 2 weeks. Interaction will be through GoToWebinar® which works in-browser on almost any PC or Mac. A faster-than-dial-up Internet connection is best, but it is possible to connect to audio by long-distance telephone, provided simultaneous Internet access is also available. Complete information on how to access the sessions will be sent to participants by email. Please email me at jennifer (at) renewinghousewives  (dot) com with any questions.  (remove spaces)

Register Now at:
Once registered you will receive an email confirming your registration with information you need to join the Webinar.
System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer
With love

"But exhort one another daily, 
while it is called “Today,” 
lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."
Hebr. 3:13
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