28 February 2012

I'm A Control Freak!

“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9b-10
Do I really understand these verses? Do I walk in them?
Over the past 2 weeks I was confronted with pain and trauma from my past that crippled me, severely.  I have weaknesses, misconducts, bad habits that took root over years, due to my sinful nature, circumstances out of my control (painful childhood years), spiritual immaturity and lack in knowledge of God’s Word.   In the past 15 years I grew in knowledge about God’s Word, I started to crucify these fleshly passions and desires; took baby steps walking in the Spirit and believed over time my life should represent a life living in the Spirit.  With everything in me I tried to walk more and more in the Spirit. I’ve came to know God desires obedience and not sacrifices, and my heart turned from focusing on me, myself and I, to living my life Him, and thus others.  Life should be good - right?  NO!  The more I tried to walk in the Spirit, giving up my sinful nature, the more I experienced a battle against my flesh.
I can relate so much to Paul’s words in Romans 7:15-16:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”
Years ago, Christo and I received a teaching by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson on deliverance ”Teaching and preaching for life-change”.  In the opening teaching he explained how the more we want to walk in the Spirit, the worse the flesh will become. (Galatians 5: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”)
The flesh never gets better. Just read Rom 6 to understand that.

So how can I do this? How can I live everyday life in my home, between my 8 children, walking in the Spirit and model to them a life in Christ?  I’m desperate to find the answer, because being a mother can bring out the worse in me!  There I’ve said it! And homeschooling them, makes it even worse!  Add to that the expectation to be a godly, submissive helpmeet to my husband and I’m totally overwhelmed!
As you all know I’m reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts, and I’m almost finished with the book. The principles of being Thankful in all circumstances is a sure key to living a life in the Spirit, but over the past two weeks even that couldn’t lift me out of the pit of my own destructive and sinful nature.
I’m a control freak, and want to be in control of everything in my life. Over the years I’ve read tens of books on Christianity, motherhood, being a helpmeet, homeschooling and put systems into place to help me live a spirit filled life.  I guess for me, I first have to get my mind over the matter and then my heart follows.  As the years past, these systems surely gave me the structure to live the life I long to live in the spirit, submitting every area of my life to God, but in a sense it was only an illusion.  Over time I’ve tried to find fulfillment and security in the structures, and that is outside of Christ. 

The moment my life is out of control, and that happens every single day in my house of ten, I do the things I don’t want to, I walk in the flesh. And walking in the flesh is like a bomb going off, shrapnel flies in every direction and it not only has a destructive effect on my life, it is destructive on everyone around me.  
As I cried out to the Lord in the past two weeks, 2 Corinthians 12 came clearly to mind.  The more I ponder on it, the more I realized, though I cannot live without structures in my life and will always want to be in control and that is good, God put it in me with a reason. I have to let go for God to perform miracles in my life.  I need to get to Jesus’ feet and admit I’m so weak.  I’m not Super-Woman.  With all the head knowledge and heart convictions, that what I am doing is in His perfect will and His calling on my life, I have to get back to my Father and rest in Him!  Knowing I’m in His will and walking in my calling, will not make my road easy.  Quite the opposite.  The enemy will throw  me all kinds of traps, and I need to know it is fine to experience infirmities, reproaches, persecutions, distresses and to have needs - to be so weak, I don’t know what to do next.  

I fell for the lie that when I’m walking in the calling of my life, I will be strong.  I forgot about 2 Corinthians 12 - I will only be strong, when I rest in my Lord, and let Him be strong in me, even more in my weaknesses. I’m going to stop trying to fix my weaknesses, implementing yet another structure to falsely strengthen my weakness, and focus more on what God wants me to do in my weakness. Even though I have an agenda, I need to stay submissive to  God on what is His agenda for every moment of my life.  Will that be easy - no way! Do I understand 2 Corinthians 12? Not even nearly!  It is so much easier to follow my plans for the day, but my plans have proofed over the years to be sown in the flesh, with corruption as harvest. 
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
Letting God, will mean I’ll have to crucify my sinful self even more! It is ironical - I will need to be even more “weak”, I will need to be meek, gentle and lowly in heart.  
These were only beginning thoughts, and I realize I will need to pray and read more.

What insights and revelation do you have on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10?  Please share in the comments below.

This posting is linked with:

With much love

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, 
and I will give you rest. 
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, 
for I am gentle and lowly in heart, 
and you will find rest for your souls. 
30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  
Matthew 11:28-30

14 February 2012

Encouragement for Marriage

A few encouraging postings on Marriage:

With much love

 "Love does not envy; love does not parade itself;
is not puffed up;
Does not behave rudely, does not seek its own,
is not provoked, thinks no evil;
does not rejoice in iniquity, bet rejoices in the truth;
bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things."
1 Cor 13:4b-7

12 February 2012

Health Talk Webinar

Since September last year my Husband, a Clinical Nutritionist and Health Shop Owner, have been presenting Health Talks once a month at Eirene Health Shop, our Health Shop, in Durbanville. Over the months many of our clients around South Africa, requested the talks online.

So, after a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ sweat, we are happy to announce that we will be hosting our first Webinar on Monday Evening, 13 February, at 7pm live from Eirene Health Shop.
The seminar will be on “How to Maintain your S3xual Health - Naturally”

Through this Webinar you will learn how to:
Improve Libido
Avoid PMS
Correct hormone related depression
Have a healthy Prostate
Prevent Breast Cancer
Eliminate Dryness and Pain
Balance Hormones
Eradicate Erectile Disfunction
Enjoy your intimate life to the full

We have created a Registration form via which you can register for the seminar and you can log in just before 7pm - Click here to register for the Webinar.
You will receive a Registration Confirmation by e-mail and the link to login 15minutes before 7pm to give you able time to log in.
Please take note: On the Registration form for the live Webinar you will also find a link to check your computer’s ability to view this Webinar. If you copy, paste the link it will check if you have all the plug-ins to run a Webinar.

We hope you can join us for this live talk.

Much love

05 February 2012

Our Children's Purity

We were pregnant with our fourth child (and second daughter), CJ, our oldest was 8 years old and Heidi-Mari (now 14 years and 7 months) was only 5 years old when we were first introduced to the concept of giving our children a “visual binder” to purity before marriage.  
Both Christo and I grew up being allowed to date and have relationships from a young age, but by God’s grace we were preserved for each other, and only shared everything on our wedding night. As we grew in our marriage relationship over the following years, we could only thank the Lord for his grace on both our lives for being pure on the day of our wedding, not having the baggage from other serious/s3xual relationships.
Needless to say, when we heard a Godly, homeschooling family from America and visiting South Africa, sharing their tradition of giving a silver ring as visual binder to their four children at a young age to remind them of purity before marriage, we were captivated by the idea. 

A few months later the couple sent us a VHS series on the book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris. We were sold on the idea, got the book, and as a result the Silver Ring Thing program started in South Africa under the protection of Walk Thru The Bible.  The Silver Ring Thing program, through live events, promotes abstinence until marriage centered in a relationship with Jesus. One specific scene that I will never forget, debunk the myth that having s3x has no consequences, by highlighting the emotional risk of giving your heart to too many people. 
The scene starts when the team leader selects three young women from the audience to join him onstage.  One young man comes out on stage and he is given two pieces of plywood that, when held together, form a red heart. 

The team leader tells him that he is going to go on a date with each young woman. With each one they take things a little too far, and eventually break up. Then the team leader returns to the stage wearing an industrial apron, a mask and carrying a chain saw.  Placing half of the plywood heart in a vise grip, he saw out a part of the heart every time the young man breaks up with a girl. 

He proceeds to saws it into three pieces, which he then burns in a flaming barrel.  He gives the destroyed piece of the young man’s heart to each of the ex-girlfriends, and the young man is left with his destroyed heart. This young man will bring that destroyed half a heart to his bride one day.  

In the same way, the ex-girlfriends’ will also bring their destroyed half a heart to their bridegroom and the destroyed pieces of their ex-boyfriends’ hearts.  Talking about baggage!
With this knowledge imprinted into our hearts and minds we (Christo and I) raise our children, with a passion to serve the Lord and wait on the Lord; for the partner He has in mind for each one of them. We never gave them a special ring, but a few days ago a dear friend of mine, Marie Lawson, posted a very special story on her facebook, which I want to share with you. 
This story was originally written by Sarah Kistler. For me this story summarized the overall vision we want to share with our children. 
"Sweet 16 had finally come! I never thought I‘d make it. But I did. And it was amazing. My parents threw the birthday party of the century, and I had more people than I could count. The whole day had been awesome. But as I watched the sun begin to set, I knew the best part was soon to come.
It was late in the evening. Confetti had been swept up, helium balloons had started to sag and gift wrap had been folded neatly and tucked away for my mom's later use. As I sat at my window studying the dusky sky, Dad peeked into my room with a smile. 
"Ready to go, Sweetie?" he asked. 
Was that a trick question? I wondered as I scrambled to my feet. I'd been waiting for this night for five long years, and it was finally here! I was now officially allowed to date! 
The plan was for my parents and me to go to my favorite restaurant on the night of my 16th birthday and officiate the agreement, go over standards and discuss rules and such. And now we were finally on our way. 
I sat across from my parents in a quiet corner booth. Having just placed our orders, I figured it was time to get on with it. "So. I can go out with any guy I want to, right?" I squealed, hardly able to contain my excitement.
Mom and Dad chuckled. Dad answered, "Well, we agreed to that, didn't we?" 
"Sweet!" I exclaimed, doing a little victory dance in my seat. My parents had held me off for years, but now that the time had come, they would let me date any guy I wanted! Of course they knew I had a good relationship with God and wasn't too short on common sense, either. 
"Now wait just a second," Mom interrupted with a smile. "You have to agree to a little something yourself." 
I was expecting a lecture of some sort, so I was already prepared. "So what do I have to do now?" I asked, leaning forward on my elbows. 
"Just open this," Dad answered, producing a small white box. He gave a mysterious smile.  
One Little Rule
I hesitated a moment before untying the curly pink ribbon. I slowly opened the lid and saw a beautiful silver bracelet. But not just any bracelet. It was a charm bracelet. And they weren't just any charms. 
They were gemstones, small but gorgeous. A dozen dainty charms dangled gently. 
"Wow." I didn't know what else to say. I wasn't expecting this at all. 
"Now you have to understand this isn't just any bracelet," Mom informed me. 
"I know," I said. "It's so beautiful!" I studied it closer. There were six small charms alternating with six tinier ones. The smaller ones were a deep blue. Sapphires, I guessed. And the other six were each different. One appeared to be just a rock, one was pink, a white one, a red one, green . . . and was that a diamond? 
"This charm bracelet is symbolic," Dad explained, leaning in closer to study it with me. "It represents you and your purity. This is what will guide you through your dating relationships. Your mother and I can only tell you what's right. We can't make you believe it yourself. Hopefully, this will." 
I looked up solemnly. "I'm listening." 
"This represents the first time you hold a guy's hand," Mom said, pointing to the gray one. "It's just a piece of polished granite. Seemingly cheap, yes, but it's still a part of your bracelet. This is pink quartz." She gently rubbed the next one between her fingers. "It represents your first kiss." 
"This green one is an emerald," Dad continued. "This is your first boyfriend. The pearl is the first time you say ‘I love you' to a man other than me." 
I giggled. This was so amazing. 
"The ruby stands for your first engagement. And the diamond represents the first time you say ‘I do,' " Mom finished. 
After letting it all sink in, I cleared my emotion-clogged throat. "What do the six tiny sapphires stand for?" I asked. 
"Those are to remind you how beautiful and valuable you are to us and to God," Dad replied. "Now here's the hitch in all this, the one and only rule you'll ever have to follow when it comes to dating." 
Only one rule. Sounded good. But little did I know . . . 
"Whenever you give one these actions of love-a kiss, an ‘I love you,' a hand to hold-you also have to give the recipient the gem to match." 
I must've misunderstood. "I have to give him the gem?" 
"You have to give it to him," Mom restated. 
I was silent for a moment. I thought they must be joking. But they weren't even thinking of cracking a smile. 
"But Daddy!" I suddenly shrieked. "These are insanely expensive! I can't just give them away!" 
He gave a soft, loving chuckle. "Did you hear what you just said?" 
I thought about it. 
"Baby, your purity, your heart, they're far more valuable than a few little rocks. If you can't find it in your heart to give away your little charms, I don't think you should be giving away the things they represent." 
I could feel my insides melting, ready to gush out my tear ducts. On the one hand, it made me feel valuable and precious. But on the other, it made me furious. It made no sense. But it would. 
Priceless Gems
A few weeks after that night, I was hanging out with my friends at the beach. Chad wouldn't swim because I wouldn't swim. I was more interested in reading than getting caked with sand, and he was more interested in sitting with me than swimming with his buddies. He was sweet. He was cute. And he tried to hold my hand. 
I was thrilled for a nanosecond when a certain piece of ugly granite flashed through my mind and made me move out of his reach. I was severely annoyed-annoyed at my parents, annoyed at my bracelet-turned-handcuffs, but most of all, annoyed at myself. I was letting a little rock dominate my romantic life. 
I furiously glared at it during the whole embarrassing walk to the bathhouse. But then God hit me upside the head with a shocking epiphany. I couldn't give up my little chunk of granite. It was a part of my bracelet, which in a sense made it a part of me. I wouldn't be whole without it. It wasn't a priceless gem, yet it was still valuable. It made sense after that. 
Kevin came along eventually. We had fun. We hung out a lot. I thought I might love him. I thought I might tell him so. I thought of my pearl. It turned out that I didn't love him as much as I thought I did. 
So my parents had been right. They couldn't make me believe the things they wanted me to believe. So they let God and my bracelet do the work instead. Among the four of them, I figured out how valuable I was. How valuable my purity was. How not valuable guys were who just wasted my time and emotions. If they weren't in it for the whole bracelet, why should they get one part of it? 
Nate. He thought my bracelet was awesome. So he never tried to hold my hand. He never tried to kiss me. But he asked me to marry him. 
I never knew that so many years of torture could amount to so much happiness. I'd thought it was silly. I'd thought it was overrated. But now, I‘ve never been more glad of anything in my life. As I gave my husband the charm bracelet in its entirety, I wondered why I had found it so hard to hang on to those little rocks when it was so amazing to give them all to the man I truly loved. 
But it didn't end there. Now our daughter wears it.”
Guess who I’m going to visit this coming week?  A Jeweler... 

With much love

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification: 
that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel 
in sanctification and honor,"
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 

01 February 2012

The Hard Thank You's

At the end of 2011 I longed to name the year 2012, Eucharisteo - a year of deliberately giving thanks to the Lord.  Little did I know, God wants to unveil to me one of His character traits I didn’t quite understand and He sparked in me the desire to give thanks, not just a mere ‘new year’s resolution’. 
It is Satan’s ultimate goal to make me believe God is not good. Since the time of Eve in the Garden it was his gaol to deceive us humans. From as early as my childhood he would make me doubt God’s love, through the lie of focusing on feelings of rejection, disappointment, failure, periods of fear and anxiety. In the process these feelings weakened my trust in my Loving Father, to work all things for my good.  
I recently started reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts.  I was not at all expecting God to address my lack of trust. God at first only introduced to me the habit of giving thanks. After reading the first chapter or two, I didn’t read for a few weeks, and just tried to establish the habit of giving thanks on an ongoing basis. Making giving thanks a habit is not just ‘slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life.  That leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life’ (Ann Voskamp). A habit of thanksgiving includes to name the things I’m thankful for.  I really struggled to make it a habit.  I first had to recognize my habit of complaining, discontentment, feeling empty, asking for more. After identifying this bad habit, I deeply desired to change.  But, I couldn’t merely decide to stop the bad habit and start the new thanksgiving habit. I had to drive out the bad habit, and in the same time fill the empty space with the new habit. This was a challenge, but I believed, I could. It is fairly easy to give thanks when life is running relatively smooth.  A few up and downs here and there, some things not quite as you planned, but still there are so much to be thankful for.
While I was working on my habit of giving thanks , I made progress in reading more in One Thousand Gifts.  To my surprise I discovered giving thanks in everything, feeds trust. Count blessings and discover Who can be counted on… (Ann Voskamp). What an interesting, new idea!  The more I read and succeed in the new habit of giving thanks, the more it fed my trust in God.
I was even more convinced by reading Phil 4:6, with ‘new eyes’. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Giving thanks, trusting God and make your requests known to God all in the same sentences. 
But what about giving thanks in a world of certain loss? Those times when it feels like life itself is giving away underneath us.  Times when dreams are crushed down, when we have no control. When pain, disappointment, uncertainty and fear is everywhere. Trusting God’s goodness, having faith, thanking God during these times is a tough call! In my perception a person would need a very special gift to even consider giving thanks. But every time when Jesus performed a miracle He first gave thanks.  Most of all He gave thanks hours before He gave His life as a ransom for us, performing the miracle of winning back eternal life for sinful human beings. And I’m back where I was when I named the year 2012 Eucharisteo - longing for more miracles in my life, giving thanks in everything, including the impossible - giving thanks in difficult situations.  
Most of all I was thankful that I wasn’t in a particular challenging season in my life.  Life was good.
But life can change in the blink of an eye...
Two weeks ago I experienced symptoms/signs that reminded me of my miscarriage in March last year. Life caved in on me - not again! Please Lord, not again, I cannot do this! By Wednesday noon I was laying, waiting for an ultrasound scan... and the monitor was silent... no heartbeat for my tiny, tiny baby. Baby was developed to about 8 weeks, although I was 11 weeks pregnant.  
In the next 24 hours, fear was creeping in on me, it was all over me.  Fear for living life!  Fear for the unknown of the next few days. Fear for my own health. Fear of not being able to stay strong for my children. Fear for losing the joy of my family.  Fear for my oldest daughter who was devastated by the news. Fear for how this news will influence my dear husband who was already carrying a heavy load. Fear for what this year of 2012 has still in store for me.
Doubt of God’s goodness was a natural reaction.  But due to the habit that was now almost established in my daily life, I was desperately looking for thank you’s, thank you’s that would precede the miracle. And the miracle did follow! I experienced my God as I never have before.  God was everywhere. Never before did I see His fingerprints over my daily life as during that week. I couldn’t help but give thanks for how He was guiding me through heart breaking pain. 
I was giving thanks in the heart breaking situation. Writing them down, one painful memory after the other - giving thanks. These Thank You’s are so personal, but I have to write them here, declaring victory over the Enemy of my soul, reminding me: God is good, all the time.
#37 Thankful for running into our trusted doctor friend on Monday night, as Christo and I walked to the car after our date night.  On Wednesday he would write my ‘referring letter for the ultrasound
#38 Thankful for a dear friend who delivered a message from God, of love, grace and encouragement the morning my dream was crashed down, without her knowing what was happening in my live
#39 Thankful for the network of Godly women who is currently intimately walking with me the Hello Mornings challenge. So much love, encouragement, prayer for us as a family.
#40 Thankful for the friendly personnel at the Radiologist’s, who fit me into their very busy schedule, even before my Dr’s letter came through the fax machine

#41  Thankful for a sonar picture of my baby
#42 Thankful for my understanding, caring, loving husband who stays strong for me, while he carries his own share of problems, worries and his own dreams for this baby crashed down, constantly pointing me back to my faith in the Lord
#43 Thankful for my strong oldest son with the gentle spirit who took me to the ultrasound, held my hand all the way and showered me with love and care in a very dark hour
#44 Thankful for what ever the Lord is teaching my dearest oldest daughter in the safety of her parents home, through her deepest pain and disappointment in losing another sibling
#45 Thankful for people smiling on me in the supermarket a few days later, while shopping with my five little ones, calling me blessed, delivering me a personal love letter from God, reminding me I am blessed
#46 Thankful for the song God put in my heart minutes before we left for the sonar:
“Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the Lord will go before you
And His light will show the way
Be strong and take courage
Do not fear or be dismayed
For the one who lives within you
Will be strong in you today”
#47 Thankful for the same song the next morning, while I was crying my heart out before the Lord:
Why don' you give him all of your fears
Why don't you let him wipe all of your tears
He knows, He's been through pain before
And He knows all that you've been looking for

#48 Thankful for the most beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered by a dear, dear friend, reminding me of the beauty all around me
#49 Thankful for the most beautiful pictures I’ve taken of my tummy

#50 Thankful for the pictures dear Heidi-Mary took of the little ones gathered around my growing tummy, already loving and caring for their little baby brother or sister
#51 Thankful for all my children who are around me, every day of my life, but especially during these days, to comfort me, love me, remind me of the purpose of my life.
#52 Thankful for this season of bearing and raising children
#53 Thankful for the privilege to be part of giving life to another Eternal Human Being who is right now praising and glorifying our Lord in Heaven, alongside his/her 4 siblings
#54 Thankful for the hope of having eternity with these 5 precious children
#55 Thankful for God’s timing of my miscarriage, early morning, while Christo was still at home, to help me
#56 Thankful that I didn’t need to go into hospital.

And as I was giving thanks, I could breathe again, fear was pushing away from me, further and further away. Replaced by faith and trust in my loving Father. Peace and true thankfulness was all over me.   I could get out of bed, not afraid of what the day will hold.  I am not alone - God is all around me, knowing my pain even before I know, going before me, carrying me, holding me, caring for me, loving me with His deepest love.
Often we will only be able to see through our pain when we look back, in the rearview mirror, after driving long, long distances. Maybe sometimes about as far as heaven - and therefore I can only keep giving thanks, stop questioning my Father’s love. And in giving thanks, I feed trust. Trust that God’s love, God grace will never ends.
Much love

He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
So we may boldly say:
"The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
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