24 May 2012

Emotions of the Mother of A Young Man!

It all started Tuesday evening when Christo informed me that I got a reminder notification from the Traffic Department to renew my Driver’s license… 
Could it be? 
 Is it possible that THE five years sneaked pass me in the blink of an eye? 
Five years ago my oldest son was 13 years old… 

He was on the brink of becoming a young man:
I clearly remember walking out of the Traffic department, so relieved that I managed through the queue, eye test and paying the bill, with two babies, all by myself - Andrew was 23 months and David 7 months - thinking next time I have to renew my license, it might be easier, because by then I would have much older children to help with possible babies.  
But an even bigger thought was lingering somewhere in my mother heart. Next time I have to renew my license, my oldest son would be preparing himself to receive his drivers license.  
               It was an exciting, daunting notion.

Four and a half years…
In November last year, CJ proudly obtained his Learners Driver’s license.  It was a big moment for me as well as my son! We immediately enrolled him with a driving school and after a few lessons Christo allowed him to drive home each time after fetching him from the horses, with his truck.  
Christo is a much better teacher than I and far more patient, so in the past 6 months, CJ only drove me twice to the supermarket.  The first time was almost to momentous for me to grasp. 

The second time, more memories, much further in the past: 
I remembered a dry, winter’s day in August 1994 - I was 4 days from 40 weeks pregnant with my firstborn. On this day I had to fetch study material from a bookshop in the centre of the town where we lived.  I squeezed in behind the steering wheel of my car, almost unable to reach the pedals due to moving the chair as far backwards as possible, so I could fit in the ‘little passenger’ in my tummy. I realized this is it! It would be the last time I move in behind the steering wheel of my car with this tummy!  24 hours later CJ was born!  
Current time...

April 2012 and I had to blink twice to come to terms that my son is sitting in front of the steering wheel again, but this time I’m the passenger!  When did this happen?

The past few weeks we called the traffic department numerous times to check if it was time to make an appointment for the fourth week of August, 3 days after CJ’s 18th birthday, so he could check out for his driver’s license.  On Monday we got the green light and scheduled Wednesday to go for the eye test and make the appointment. The whole time I remembered somewhere in the back of mind, my license also needed to be renewed, but I didn’t allow myself to pay to much attention to it. I almost tried to avoid the thought.
Then Tuesday night Christo, suggested I renew my license today too, since I have to be there!  
No!! I don’t want to!  
Five years ago, in an emotional moment, I visioned something like that could happened, but in real live? Can’t we just get this over and done, without any emotional attachments, real life realizations?  

I made an excuse of not having passport photos and dropped the subject.  I wasn’t ready to face the facts, my son is growing up, a young man, almost ready to be on his own… 
something I was thinking about five years ago, with delight, but anxiously too...  
              it was still 5 years ahead, all right…  
but now…
Wednesday morning while CJ was getting all the papers and passport pictures ready, I told him I actually could renew my license too, but I don’t have passport pictures and we don’t have time to stop for that on our way, so I would just have to go another time.  To my shock, he announced he still have passport pictures of me, and I will be able to renew my license.  When he went for his ID, I applied for a new ID, since mine was in a terrible condition, so we went for passport pictures together. 
We didn’t use all mine… 
              My son filed mine with his...
                              The time had come… 
I was on my way to renew my driver’s license 
the same time my first born was going for his eye test 
making the appointment for his driver’s license.  

What an awesome place in time… 
A memory making moment in my journey as a Mother… 
         All part of the closing process... 
                 Cutting the umbilical cord for good… 
                  Allowing my son to spread his wings, fly…
How did my Mother heart know?  It was almost like in a far fetched moment I saw an exact vision of this day… 
Five years into the future… Now...
Thank you Lord, 
for holding me, 
for holding my son, 
for intertwining us together, 
though we are slowly moving apart… 

 to fulfill our separate callings in life, as adults.

Dear Mother, we hear it numerous times… 
we know… 
                 in the blink of an eye our precious babies, will be grown ups. 

 Cherish every moment …
the fun times, 
                the challenging times too.

Much love

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20 May 2012

Seeking the Lord in the Morning - So Much More!

It is so important to have a longing for the knowledge of God as given to us in His Word, when trying to wake up early for Bible study.  

I believe there are many different motivations for sacrificing sleep and spend early mornings with the Lord. Longing for fellowship with the Spirit, the Lord’s comfort, encouragement, unconditional love and supplication of heartfelt prayer especially in a time of tribulation and hardship, the most general motivation. BUT, what about days when things are actually going smooth? No difficult decisions to make, no emergency situation that make me rush to the Lord.   On such mornings I will lay in bed, and all the different excuses for staying in bed will roll through my mind like the credits on a movie screen. 

I just experienced it over this weekend.  It was a relaxing weekend, no dead lines, nothing important on the to-do-list, no serious conflicting issues, that make me long for encouragement and guidance of the Spirit. Personally I was content and emotionally in the ‘better half of my monthly cycle.”  When the alarm went off, it was still pitch dark outside and I could hear the soothing sound of rain on the rooftop. My dear husband was peacefully asleep next to the tiny, warm body of our two year old son, who called sometime during the night, because he was cold and thirsty. I wasn’t keen to share his single bed for most of the night and carried him over to our bed, where he very eagerly moved close in behind his Daddy back. 

I had NO reason in the world to pull myself from my loved ones and get out of my comfortable, warm bed, to sit on a cold chair, at a cold desk on a freezing cold morning.
One after the other excuses and compromising thoughts filled my mind. After all it was weekend, I got up early every morning of the week for my family who need me to rise before them. There was no rush for this day. I didn’t need to wake them up and I liked the idea of spoiling them this one day to sleep in. If I got out of bed, there was the possibility I would disturb some of them and wake them up. Surely I will be able to find some time during the day to have Bible study and prayer, we’re not bound to a schedule today.  

But the next moment I identified something else in my spirit.  A longing to receive personal teaching/training from my Heavenly Father. What am I going to miss out on, when I stay in bed? I want to get to know His will more and more, His agenda for my life, understand God’s Manual for Man to live a holy life. This was a different longing than what I was used to.  In the past I mostly longed to share with the Lord my agenda, my hardships and try to find His will in that. 

Over the past 8 months, since I’m doing the Hello Mornings and Do Not Depart Bible Studies, I acquired so much wisdom and counsel from my Heavenly Father, through studying the Bible myself.  All the Do Not Depart Bible Studies are based on the Savoring Living Water Study Method, which teach you to observe any passage, chapter or book through initial reading and finding context; digging deeper in God’s Word through observing Truths, Promises, Commands; and Personal application of these three aspects in how we love and live.

Lies fill our world and seep into our homes. If we don’t know His truths then lies will take us captive. If lies bind us, we doubt God’s love and question His faithfulness when difficulties arise.  If lies fill our minds, we define God’s character based upon our circumstance rather than based upon His revelation. Through the Savoring Living Water Study Method I’m able to maintain an arsenal of truths in my heart and soul in order to combat lies.
At times He Speaks conditional promises, meaning they will only be experienced when a condition is met. Other times He gives unconditional promises, meaning that they will happen regardless.
He’s our Father. He loves us. He designed us. He knows us perfectly. He gives us commands for our good and His glory. When we choose to obey, we choose His blessing.”
Structure and purpose was now typical of my Bible study. That didn’t characterize my studies in the past, and it was pulling me out of the warm comfortable bed, to a secret place filled with so much more warmth, comfort, peace and revelation, I couldn’t resist.
Through the Savoring Living Waters Study Guide I could design a place, time and plan to get to such a warm, comfortable, peaceful place. It is hard work to seek the Lord, even more to seek His will for my life, and then step out and do it. I remember the times when I just couldn’t figure out the meaning of passages in the Bible; seasons where I felt distanced from the Lord and couldn’t focus; moments when my heart was cluttered with sin and I was under so much personal condemnation, as well as condemnation from the enemy of my soul, that I was to ashamed to seek the Lord.  

Then there were the times I would only rush to the Lord like the seriously injured rush to Emergency Rescue.  My quiet times were determined by my state of well being. How seriously I needed the Lord for the day? And the sad part of that state of mind, is me only reading the ‘nice verses’ in the Bible.  The verses on grace, His love for me and redemption.  I would read the passages I knew would comfort me and assure me God loves me even though I’m a sinner. 

Nothing wrong with reading and clinging to these verses, but there are so much more to discover in God’s Love Letter to me. Chapters on repentance, instructions to turn from my wicked ways; passages on becoming holy because the Lord is holy. Sections in which the Lord asked changes in my life I wasn’t ready to commit myself to, I would just quickly page through. I would often get up from my Bible study time with a feeling, “there was nothing in it for me…” I was still thirsty.  This was all due to my lack of a plan and structure, practical tools to quench my thirst . What a breakthrough moment for me this morning to see through all these and long to be with the Lord, no matter what He sees fit for me for today!
Oh! I know I’m only scratching on the surface of what it is all about, but I’m in anticipation and know I’m entering a new season of seeking the Lord, like a man in the desert seeking water. 

Bible study isn’t about me anymore, it isn’t about how I will feel anymore. It is all about me seeking the will of God Almighty. It isn’t about my happiness anymore, it is all about becoming holy and pleasing to the Lord, breaking down the barriers between God and me, through the instructions in His Word.
With much love

10 May 2012

Secrets to a Successful Outing with Little Ones

Some time ago I had to take 4,000 Above Rubies magazines to the Post Office. It was in 700 envelopes, 12 boxes with between 50 to 300 magazines and 25 international envelopes.  It is always a challenge and takes quite some time - the bulk orders need to be weighed and a few stickers need to be put on, this done by the Post Office Assistant. The international envelopes, also need to be weighed and postage stamps added. Each international envelope needs between 3-5 stamps, depending on the availability of stamps in the right value, and these I have to put on by myself.  This time I had to take my 5 little ones, ages between 8 and 2years old with me.  

The older children had a tennis camp. 

They behaved very well, sitting on a blanket at my feet, paging through picture books I took along, nibbling on nuts, while I put stamps on the envelopes and waited for everything to be weighed and paid for.

This wasn’t the first time I had to take all 5 little ones with me to a mall or supermarket.  It happens often, I actually love to take them with me, and show off a little. :-) 
How do I prevent outings and errands to end in total chaos? Little ones running, climbing and screaming like wild beasts or nagging constantly? I thought I would share with you some routines and secrets I’ve came to implement over the years.
I try as far as possible to stay in a weekly rhythm with outings. This way they, as well as I, know when and what to expect during the week and we can plan accordingly;

NO Sugar the day before outings and never MSG foods:
Sugar is a mind altering drug, and my children transform into hyperactive balls when they have sugar. Needless to say sugar is ONLY for high days and holidays. MSG is a neurotoxin, stimulant and toxic to the brain and we never allow our children to have anything with MSG! 
A balanced meal before we leave:
Whether our outing is in the morning or the afternoon, our regular breakfast or lunch which contains of a protein and starch will prevent blood sugar fluctuation. Blood sugar fluctuation is often the cause of bad behavior; 

Time of the day:
Over the years I’ve learned to choose a time of the day, I know my little ones are at their best. Not before nap time, nor near mealtimes. I’ve observed babies and small toddlers are at their best just after a nap;
Toilet routine:
As putting on shoes are part of leaving, so is visiting the toilet. For the very little ones, there is always an older sibling who take responsibility to check that they visit the toilet.  While in the supermarket or mall, I will plan visits to the restrooms before it become an emergency;
A Nutritious Snack:
I always have a nutritious snack with me, preferably a combined food, like nuts or organic sausage or a nut butter sandwich. I try not to give fruit alone, it easily spikes their blood sugar levels and cause them to be hyperactive. And if I have nothing else, I’ll take bananas, instead of grapes. I never buy sweet treats or snacks containing sugar or MSG while in the shops. They are trained from the moment they can understand, that sugar and MSG alter their brains; and cause them to be more susceptible to infection, lower their immune system and therefore they won’t even ask. It is actually quite funny to be in hearing distance when we walk through the payment aisle and overhear all their comments on sweets and potato snacks!

Length of outing:
I always take into account their ability to cope with the level of noise, visual stimulation and lack of movement when in the shops and plan the length of our outing accordingly. When Andrew (my now almost 7 year old) was a baby and toddler, it was almost impossible to take him to the supermarket or a mall. He just couldn’t handle all the visual stimulation and couldn’t stand the level of noise. Christo had to accompany me on outings to the mall and he would sit with Andrew at our favourite coffee shop, waiting for us to finish our shopping. Going to the supermarket was a nightmare, I had to prepare myself for at least one outburst, and took it in my stride, assuring myself, this will pass too, and yes, it did.  

Time out:
It is especially important to know my children’s personalities and don’t stretch them till they blow their tops. My one child cannot handle it when his personal space is entered and is very independent. He is my barometer to indicate when our time is running out. I rather leave while he is still having a good time and go again, if I’m not finished shopping yet. This way it stays a positive experience;

Next meal ready:
On our way home, I always try to have another snack in the car, and if possible the next meal ready at home, especially if go for an outing in the morning and only arrive back home near meal and nap time.  It spare you the stress of preparing a meal, with grumpy, hungry, tired, overstimulated children;
Inform them:
When I only had CJ, I would talk to him all the way to an outing, shopping mall or supermarket. I would tell him exactly what he can expect and what I’m expecting from him. I stayed in the routine of informing my children and over the years came to realize the value of informing them.

Keep them close to me:
In my opinion the biggest secret is to keep my children close to me, on a daily basis and use every possible opportunity to train them to behave well.  This way they know exactly what I’m expecting from them in whatever situation, and I know exactly when one of them isn’t having a fun time anymore and starts to look for trouble.
My own rhythm:
Something we sometimes forget to take in account is our personal rhythm and female cycle.  As far as possible I try to avoid outings on the second day of my female cycle, in my case the day I’m feeling the worst.  And the week before, I have extra grace on myself as well as on my little ones.   
We’re in a routine of always praying when we get in the car. We pray for a safe drive, for protection at the different places where we need to go, for well behaved children and provision for what we’re looking for. It isn’t extraordinary to witness the Lord’s hand on our outings 
The outing turned out soar:
Then there are days, you did everything right, but the outing just didn’t make it.  On these days, I just remember they are still children in training, and training takes time, it’s a process and doesn’t happen overnight.  When we get home, I fill their tummies, put exhausted little ones in bed for a nap, and go read a story for an overstimulated toddler. Keeping them close to me, loving them and let them know, all is well, they are safe at home.

With much love

06 May 2012

Hello Mornings Challenge open for Registration!

The Hello Mornings Summer (No Winter) Challenge is open for registration! For South African's and ladies in the Southern Hemisphere it will be Winter!

With the Spring (No Fall) Hello Mornings Challenge 40 ladies reacted on my challenge “No more sloppy mornings”.  We joined together in two closed facebook groups and true life changed took place. In one of the groups two ladies succeeded to wake up early for 13 weeks every morning, to spend time with the Lord, before their children woke up. Isn’t that wonderful to know it is possible
Just imagine the truth and grace which manifested in the homes, of all the Mothers who started their days at the feet of Jesus.  
But it isn’t easy to replace old habits with new ones.  It takes time, for sure not only 28 days, as many of you have noticed.  Many of the ladies realized that during this past challenge, being their first, their biggest challenge was to simply get up earlier. Many experienced extra trails and hardships, while doing the challenge and contrary to what was expected it got harder and not easier as the challenge proceeded. In many of the homes the children all of a sudden started to wake up earlier, while Mom was still trying to! May I share a secret with you: “That was exactly what I experienced with my first challenge in September 2011.”  The focus of the challenge for me was just to get in the habit of getting to bed earlier to be able to rise earlier in the morning, before my children for 3-4 of the 7 mornings. For some weeks I strived only to rise early every other morning, but as my hunger for the peaceful mornings with the Lord increased, I had motivation to rise early more faithfully.
So, if you are feeling discouraged with what you achieved with your first Hello Morning Challenge, please take courage - You are perfectly on track!  

So much so, that the Hello Mornings Team have decided to give you a choice on three different tracks with the Fall (No Spring) Challenge August 8 to November 16th 2012. The first track will be to rise early and spend time with the Lord. Track two will be to rise early, spend time with the Lord and add planning. If you choose the third track it will be to add exercise to rising early and spending time with the Lord, all before the children wake up. But more on that later this year.
Let’s discuss the Challenge on hand. 

The Summer (No Winter) Challenge from May 14 till July 8th. I believe most of you who did the first challenge, tasted the sweet fruit of spending time of the Lord first thing in the morning, so why not jump into the next challenge and let us help each other to fine tune this life giving habit?
I know many of you feel you tried so hard with little or no success, and I want to share with you a precious piece of wisdom shared by Kat Orr, Tuesday night during the live chat party. How often will you be able to pick up a heavy chair by merely trying to pick it up? If you are all by yourself you most probably will not be able to, if the chair is beyond hour ability.  But you need to move it, right? What will you do?  Will you just leave it, or will you try to get some help, even have a slight change in plan to make it possible to move it or work around the fact that you cannot move it. You will DO something about it!
Let’s view our challenge to TRY and wake up early FOR our children in the same light.  We seldom will achieve something by just trying. Failure is much more guaranteed, by mere trying, but if you make a decision to make it happen, no matter what, you can do it. 

There are at least three things you can DO to achieve that:
  1. Call in help;
  2. Get a new plan
  3. Come up with a new goal/focus
So dear ladies, which of these above changes do you need to work on to accomplish your goal to fine tune your life giving habit of rising early and spending time with the Lord; even doing some planning and exercise, depending on your capacity and expectations, before your children rise/need you in the morning? We are here to help you!
There were also ladies who just didn’t see any way they could join our challenge in December last year. Maybe your circumstances have changed, maybe you are in desperate need of encouragement and wisdom from the Lord. You sense the gentle prompting of the Spirit to link up with us for this Summer (No Winter) Hello Mornings Challenge.

There is a slight difference in this challenge from the previous challenge.  
  1. In the previous challenge you could either be added to a group by the Hello Mornings team, or choose a Pre-planned group and join a group of whom you already knew.  With this challenge there will be no grouping option. Your are welcome to stay in the group you are currently in, or form new groups. We would love for you to find friends in your area, and/or your stage of life to create a group.
  2. There will still be the weekly challenge e-mails, so be sure to sign up!
  3. We will be studying 1 Corinthians 13, Love Like Him, using the Focused15 study method, by Katie Orr. This Bible study will be available from tomorrow, Monday 7th of May. (You are welcome to join the challenge and study whatever you like. This is use for anyone looking for something to study!) I absolutely love Katie's Bible study method, maybe you would love it too!

For the South African ladies we already have two groups, an Afrikaans group and an English group. Why don’t you join us in one of these two groups?  To do so, you register at the Hello Mornings Registration Page and e-mail me.  Please don’t comment on this posting, e-mail me. That way I can have contact details to get in touch with you.
So come dear ladies let us double the previous group of ladies. I know there are some of you who probably need a group from South Africa, or know a friend who need this accountability and encouragement to make early rising in the Word of God happen.  Let us spread the word!
Registration close on the 14th of May, you have only one week left.  
With much love

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