31 December 2012

The Year of Charis. Grace

In November a tummy bug swept through our home. It started with one of the little boys waking me one morning with: "Mommy I'm nauseous..." I frantically cleaned up after him. Sent everyone out of the room. I did everything in my power to avoid the other children getting this too. Everything went well. Three days passed, no one else got sick. Then Wednesday afternoon, as we were preparing to visit the dentist, my little girl bent over with tummy ache. "Mommy, I'm not feeling well..."  As I cleaned up, I tried to convince myself, it was only an anxiety attack, she feared the dentist, the drill, the injection etc. Nothing to worry about. Then on Friday night our baby boy laid weak in my arms, and without warning it came. My big girl cleaned up, while baby boy and me got in the bath. Everyone was helping. Me to deeply in need to send anyone away in fear they will catch the germ. During Sunday night three children came down with the bug and before dawn three loads of washing were ready for the washing line. Praise the Lord for extra linen and an automatic washing machine, working all by itself while I tried to get some sleep and listened for the slightest sound of discomfort from my little ones.  By Tuesday I've cleaned the home from top to bottom, loaded the washing machine more than I could count, washed hands over and over again, but still all 10 of us got the tummy bug!

How does one know where the germs’ hiding place is? 
How do I get rid of that which is unknown? 
So much havoc caused by that which cannot be seen.

This past year was the year of Eucharisteo - thankfulness. 

It was no easy year. 

Two miscarriages. Dreams trampled in the ground, leaving nothing more than me with empty heart and, empty hands. 

A son who entered adulthood. Quite challenging to watch him in his independence. Could this be, my firstborn baby, dependent on me for everything, now driving himself to where he needs to be? 

My little girl breaking her arm, my sensitive one. The one who so easily get worried and stressed out. Also the one to whom taking care of others come as second nature. How do I comfort her in her pain, while waiting in uncertainty for when they will take care of her?

In this all, and much more, Eucharisteo was the life line to my loving Father. The window through which I could look into heaven. See Him taking care of me. The mirror of His love reflecting on to me.

But then in my thankfulness I identified my biggest need... As I observed God’s grace to me, I identified my need for grace.

Eucharisteo in the original language means “give thanks”.

The root word of Eucharisteo is Charis, meaning “grace”. 

It isn’t possible to live in Eucharisteo, without Charis - grace. 

As I counted the gifts of thankfulness, I saw God’s grace in the every moments of my life. And I realized I’m lacking grace on my loved ones, grace on myself, grace on friends and acquaintances. Big time. 

I’m very much a control freak, a perfectionist, hard on myself, hard on every one around me. I like things to be done the correct way, little mistakes… little grace.

I know all the verses, I'm memorizing them, I know the truth, I know my Father of grace. I know the amount of grace I have for others, will be be given to me... And when I'm trying hard, be intentional, I'm capable of walking in that grace, but what about those tiring, overwhelming moments, when grace just slips through my fingers, robbed from me, even before I owned it?

I’m frantically trying to get hold of grace. Almost like getting hold of the germs in my home, that month of November.
Where is grace hiding from me? 
Without grace there is havoc in my life, in the life of my loved ones, loss in relationships.
How do I practice more grace?
Might there be more to this walking in grace? Something deeper? 

I'm yearning to truly possess grace and gradually I came to identify it.  Grace is in the here and now. In the hurry and running around of every day life, grace is missed. That is the story of my life. I’m constantly rushing to the next thing, missing the now, due to what happened a few minutes ago or because of what need to be done a few minutes from now.  But what about the now?
"Life is not an emergency.In our rushing, bulls in china shops, we break our own lives.Haste makes waste. The hurry makes us hurt.Whatever the pace, time will keep it and there’s no outrunning it, only speeding it up and pounding the feet harder; the minutes pound faster too.  Race for more and you’ll snag on time and leak empty. Hurry always empties a soul.”          Ann Voskamp
I often run on empty, exhausted, little left to give, but I thought it was because I’m to slow. It might be the contrary:
“Life is so urgent it necessitates living slow.”      Ann Voskamp
What if I intentionally focus to be slow? Yes, life in 2013 will be busy! Little children are demanding, unable to provide for their own needs; foolish in their actions, getting into trouble in no time; then there are my older children who needs more of my undivided attention, more of my mothering instinct to recognize their unspoken emotional needs. 
"Life is not an emergency. Emergencies are sudden, unexpected events - but is anything under the sun a surprise to God?”    Ann Voskamp

This is where I need my training for 2013.  A whole new mindset on the ‘emergency’ situations in my home. What if my goal is not for me to get everything under control, but to slow down and take care, thank God for the moment of being even more dependent on Him and making a difference in the life of my loved ones.

Taking in the moments with my large family, the good and the bad. Let these moments, which I already know are filled to the brim with God’s grace, fill me with grace. 

I have no idea how I’m going to do it, but I’m surely willing to learn and eagerly looking forward to master the how.
This year I will name - Grace.  I will deliberately walk in slowing down, experience the grace.  

Living in Eucharisteo, took me a whole year to accomplish, and I'm only at the beginning. 

May the Lord in 2013 grant me the grace to hurry less, slow down more, experience more of His grace, extended His grace more to my loved ones.

It is my prayer that the Lord may also reveal to you more of His Grace in 2013.  A Blessed and happy New Year!

This posting is linked to:

With much love

24 December 2012

Christmas for the Glory of God

It was December 2000. We were a family of 5, Daddy, Mommy, boy 6 years, girl 3 years and Baby boy, 4 months. 

It was the year we started our health shop, after our Men’s Toy Shop (selling telescopes, knives, etc) went under. We lost almost everything - our home, as well as our vehicles. They say it takes 1,000 days for a new business to prosper, and we had just started our Health Shop a 100 days ago. We experienced what is was to live in total trust, that God would provide for our every need.

That Christmas we didn’t want to put up the Christmas tree. We had to move to a smaller house the end of that December, so we were in the process of packing up our home, but the main reason was there was no money, for even the smallest present.  We didn’t even know where we would get the next month’s rental and there was the bare minimum in our food cupboards. We didn’t want to give the children an expectation, followed by disappointment and explain to our little son and daughter the situation. They were so brave and submitted to our decision without any complaining. 

Then about 2 weeks before Christmas, little CJ came to me. With tears running down his cheeks, he asked me if we could please put up the Christmas tree. They knew there would be no presents, and that is okay, but they were longing for the excitement and festive atmosphere created by the tree and sparkling lights. 

I couldn’t say no, and immediately put up our 2m Christmas tree. We decorated it with joy and the children sat in delight watching the lights.  

Since it was holidays, our small health shop, still very unknown to the public, was very quiet. We had to save up every sent we got to pay our rental deposit on the 1st of January and there was almost no food in our home. This was a time of great dependence and trust in the Lord. As a result, early on the Wednesday morning before Christmas, I sat down and made a groceries list. After I wrote down everything we need for the next two weeks, I put it before the Lord and ask Him to please provide. This was setting the scene for a miracle, there was absolutely no money.

By 12 O’ clock I got a phone call from our pastor’s wife. She just came back from her ladies’ Bible study group. It was laid on the hearts of the ladies in her group to put money in an envelope for the Lues family and she was asked to bring the envelope to our home., directly after Bible study ended.  I still remember how I slowly got on my knees after putting down the phone and praised our mighty Lord. That same afternoon I put my children in the little car we borrowed from Christo’s niece, went to the grocery store and witnessed a miracle. I could buy every single item on the grocery list I made earlier that morning, and the money was  the correct amount, to the cent!

With joy and gratefulness my little children and I unpacked our groceries, me explaining all the way how this was only possible because our God in heaven know us and care about us.

Then the next morning our pastor called. He was calling on account of a member of our church, who wished to stay anonymous, and till today he is still unknown to us. This Brother in Christ made out a check to be paid in our bank account. We could use the money for whatever our needs might be, BUT it is his wish that we first buy Christmas present for our children! As I sit here writing this, I’m crying again, remembering that moment in time. The amount he gave us was quite a lot of money. It was enough to pay our rental deposit, the rental for January and buy our children presents that exceeded our expectation! 

That Christmas was the most amazing Christmas. We experienced Immanuel, God with Us, and our children were in awe of what God had done.  They knew the evening we dropped them at their grandparents, that we were on our way to go buy them Christmas presents with money provided directly from our Heavenly Father and they had a first encounter with the grace of God. Undeserved grace.

The day after Christmas we earnestly started to pack up our home and move from our spacious rental house with a swimming pool and jungle gym, to a small 2 bedroom granny flat.  Our rent was paid, but still there was no extra money and we would have to move our home without a moving company and we didn’t anticipate any help since all our friends were enjoying their festive season. 

Again the Lord surprised us beyond our highest expectation. A few days before we had to move, another family in Christ called us, informing us that a group of families had put together money and hired a moving company to move our things on the 31st of December to our new home.  

God was demonstrating to us His blessings as we had never experienced before.  Up to then, Christmas was all about ourselves, but that Christmas we were at the receiving end and we were blown away with the way God used people to take care of our needs, the basics and beyond!

Since that very special Christmas we as a family came to understand it is more blessed to give than receive and started to walk in it.

Over the following Christmases we reminded our older children of that special Christmas and shared with our younger children the miracle of that Christmas. 

This Christmas we experienced a similar miracle.

As many of you know, Heidi-Mari finds great joy in her gifting of working with chocolate. 

Over the past 18 months we attended numerous Lindt chocolate courses and she loves to make chocolate truffles, moulded chocolate with fillings and chocolate candies.  Unfortunately it is not possible to work with chocolate in summer months without an air conditioner to cool down the room, to the low 20degrees. We tried to earn some extra money for buying an air conditioner, by selling her homemade cards, but that didn’t succeed. 

So we decided to just wait on the Lord till there was enough funds to buy an air conditioner for our kitchen.  And God provided, but from a total different source.  

Two weeks ago a friend’s husband, who saw and tasted her moulded chocolate, asked her how she was doing with her chocolate. In their conversation she mentioned that she is currently limited in what she can do, due to not having an air conditioner in the kitchen.  

Last week this friend’s husband gave Heidi-Mari an air conditioner! 

Years ago a Pastor with 7 children was asked how he provides for his family. He comment, “God is providing for my children, and my wife and I are joining in the blessing.”  We can testify for that. The Lord provided for Heidi-Mari to be able to work with chocolate in the hot summer months, and the rest of the family is enjoying the blessing of a cooler home!

Four weeks ago Danika (9) fell off the steps at our back door, and seriously broke her right arm.  It was quite a challenging 48 hours, being in a hospital the first time in 15 years, the scary experience of my little girl receiving anesthetics (not one of my children ever had anesthetics up to now) and being operated on. 

It was a heart breaking incident, seeing my little girl in so much pain, while waiting for hours for her turn on the emergency theatre list. In this all God was unmistakably present! I experienced Him going before us, not being cought by surprise at the series of events and gave thanks in every moment. But little Danika was tested big time in practicing a thankful heart, giving her every fear to the Lord, since she has a very sensitive personality, always taking care of every one else around her, but in herself can get stressed and worried very easily.

The Saturday after she broke her arm the Thursday, Brother CJ encouraged her to enter a Lindt Chocolate Colour-in competition with her left hand. With great excitement we drove to the Lindt Chocolate Studio the next Saturday, bought a 100 g Lindt Chocolate Bear which has to accompany the entry and submitted her entry.  We almost forgot about the entry, when we got a phone call on Friday morning. 

Danika was one of the 10 children who had won the colour-in competition. 

She, as well as this mother was overjoyed!  The Lord was taking care of my little girl in her distress and met her in her trial!  He blessed her with being praised for her effort of coloring with her left hand, while she was feeling worthless, not able to do anything for herself or any one else, due to an arm in a sling.  Again we experienced the Lord’s overflowing blessing. Danika’s prize was 100 mini Lindt Bears and the whole family is enjoying the blessing! It is giving her the biggest pleasure to surprisingly give away her Lindt Bears to whomever she wants to!

A week ago our family visit friends at the other side of the mountain, for the first time. The children had a ball. The older children went to play tennis with the dads and the little ones played on the jungle gym and in the swimming pool, under the moms supervision.  Now when we moved from our spacious rental home, December 2000, we sold the children’s jungle gym too. For years to come, I mourned the loss of my children’s jungle gym. 

As my friend and I watched the children climbing up and down the gym, I started telling her how we are currently saving up money to build the children a jungle gym, on which she said, “You know, this gym is on my ‘get-rid-off-list’ for the new year, you can have this jungle gym.  Our children has outgrown it now.”  You could push me over with a feather! I was looking at the gym and it had everything we wanted on our gym. We just had to dismantle it ourselves and arrange transport to our place. How blessed can one be? Was this really happening? My children soooo wanted a jungle gym, but we have not been able to afford it yet, and here the Lord was organizing one for them, for FREE!

This past Saturday the men went fetching the gym.

Since then the little ones are playing non-stop on their jungle gym! 

The time of Christmas is such an amazing time of showing good will and blessing people. It is a time that people are more vulnerable and open to giving, as well as receiving. I love this time and rejoice in the wonder of being able to bless friends, neighbours and strangers - showing them more of Jesus. 

But I’m also thankful for Immanuel, God with us; Mighty God, who rule not only the Universe, but in each of those who love Him; Jesus, the Saving One and my Savior, who show Himself to be a sure Presence in our lives.

May each of you have a blessed Christlike feast!

“5 One person esteems one day above another; 
another esteems every day alike. 
Let each be fully convinced in his own mind… 
12 So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. 
13 Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, 
but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”
Rom. 14: 5-13

With much love

03 December 2012

The How-To-Lapbook and Our Bird Lapbook

The little ones was asking me about birds, nests and eggs some time ago. When we drove past thorn trees on our way home, shortly there after, David and Andrew kept asking questions about the how, where and why of nests and birds. 

This keen interest they took in birds sparked me to let them study birds and compile the information in a lapbook.

I got beautifully illustrated books from the library and used them to guide me in planning the lapbook.

The books I got:

Voëls vir Beginners in Suider Afrika

Voëls van Suider Afrika

The Life Circle of Birds 

Learn About Birds

We focused on:

The characteristics of a bird
Different feathers;
The life cycle of a bird;
What birds feed on;
Different birds, different beaks;
What do birds use to build a nest;
Different bird nests;
Habitat of birds;
Endangered birds.

Obviously there were much more I could teach them, but I decided these were enough for now.  

They each connected the dots to form a bird and then coloured it. We also talked about the parts of the bird - the beak, feathers, legs and claws.

We went with CJ to the horse farm and collected feathers while studying the different feathers. Since then they do not miss a feather at any given moment in time, at any place and would compete with each other who shout out first what kind of feather they picked up.

I tried to use interesting folds to illustrate the life cycle of a bird, 

the stages through which the egg go while hatching 

and how the baby bird developed.

Then we studied what birds feed on and how that influence the bird’s beak.

We categorized bird’s feeding into 6 groups: Nectar, insects, seeds, fruit, fish and prey eating birds. 

It was amazing how they, afterwards, were able to categorize any bird and its feeding just by looking at its beak and how they felt empowered by their knowledge.

We studied bird nests and what common material birds used to build a nest.

When looked into how different birds would build varying nests to suit their needs. 

We made eatable bird nests from marshmallows, butter, cornflakes and coconut.  They enjoyed it so much and talked for days about the fun they had.

Then one bright, sunny, winter morning, following a stormy weekend, David discovered an abandoned cup nest and woven nest next to our conifer trees. 

At first they were overwhelmed to be able to investigate the nests, then it dawned on them that it was the home of a bird, destroyed by the weekend’s storm and they were saddened. 

But shortly after they discovered another nest, this time in the passion fruit bush next to our home.  On top of it there were baby birds in the nest! They discovered the nest, by observing the one parent bird flying into the bush with a worm hanging from it’s beak!  Over the next week or two they had the privilege to witness the growth of the little baby birds and eventually leaving the nest.

 It was interesting to them that the parent birds abandoned the nest, after the babies left the nest.

As a final activity we looked at what kind of birds would live in different habitats, taking into account their beaks and preferable feeding, as well as their nests.  They absolutely loved identifying the birds for different habitats. 

We looked at 8 different habitats: 

Fynbos (since we live in the Cape), 

The forest,

fresh water, 

sea and coast,

The desert,


The Karoo

And common birds in the City

I kept the fold with beaks and feeding next to them, while identifying the birds. 

 It was so exciting to see them identify a bird, on behalf of its beak, feeding and habitat.

Lastly we looked at four endangered birds and why birds are becoming extinct. 

It made a very strong impression on Andrew, and currently he is convinced his calling in life is to stop people who cause birds to become extinct. We also did a field trip to SANCCOP and they loved to see the penguins and different sea birds so close up. 

They also had many days painting different kinds of birds.

I was pleasantly surprised by the learning that took place while doing the bird lapbook. At the end of the day they would narrate the day’s teaching with much excitement to daddy.

They remember every piece of detail, while working on the different folds and their level of attentiveness to birds and nests convinced me yet again that lapbooking is one of the best ways of making learning fun, exciting and effective for little ones.

Compiling a lapbook from scratch can be overwhelming. Since putting a lapbook together is hard work and takes many hours, I have a few things I do and keep in mind while in the planning process, to make it a success.

The Planning Process:

I mostly do lapbooks with my younger children 10 years and younger and let their interests guide me when choosing the theme of the lapbook.

The different kinds of folds you use in a lapbook makes the lapbook interesting, so I try to use as many different folds as possible. Here you will find 100 pages of FREE Lapbook Templates you can type on!  

I will search the internet for lapbooks with similar themes, by making use of PinterestI will pin the different folds suggested to illustrate facts on a theme, on a board, for future inspiration and reference.  

The more you look at other lapbooks, the more creative your lapbooks become. Here you will find a master list of Free Lapbooks!

Get as many books on your lapbook theme at your local library and your personal library as possible. I then scan these books and put together a draft on what I want my children to learn through this lapbook. Since I’m a very detailed person, I constantly have to remind myself this is for little ones, and they DO NOT have to know everything there is to know about the theme.  Keep it simple, short, colourful and interesting.  

Let your children be involved in as many different activities related to the theme as possible. Not all lapbooks render itself to multiple activities, but if possible, the learning experience will just be some much more powerful.  I remember doing the farm animal lapbook with my children. Oh, we did lots of extra activities! 

One is not always able to capture all these activities in the lapbook, but they remember each activity as soon as they start paging through their lapbooks.

Pitfalls while busy with a lapbook:

Do not let the lapbook take weeks to finish.  I want it to be so interesting and packed with information, and as a result it can take me days to put together a specific activity/fold and the children will get frustrated and loose interest. Keep it short simple.

As soon as I think I’m finished with a lapbook, I get an idea for yet another activity. In the process the lapbook don’t get to be finished.  For this reason it is vital for me to put together a draft of what I want my children to know, and put together a lay-out of the lapbook before hand. I then discipline myself to stay with the lay-out and get the lapbook done.

Books that helped me:

The Ultimiate Lap Book handbook, by Tammy Duby and Cyndy Regeling;
Dinah Zike’s Big Book of Projects, by Dinah Zike;
Big Book of Books and Activities also by Dinah Zike.

What Other Homeschooling Mothers did:

Since I’m hosting the November Homeschool Blog Carnival with the theme Lapbooks, I’m so excited to share with you more ideas on Lapbooks, contributed by other Homeschooling Mothers

Donette Bell from The Journey did a small lapbook a while ago: Basic South African Lapbook for her preschooler.

Nadene Esterhuizen from Practical Pages (and this blog is packed with practical pages about homeschooling) shares her latest FREE lapbook - Parables.

Nadene also shares Time-saving tips for doing lapbooks. She finds this method makes lapbook time so quick and simple. 

 Here are photos and suggestions for how Nadene store their lapbooks. 

And here Nadene shared some template posts

Taryn Hayes from Hayes Happenings encouraged her children to make an Alpaca Lapbook after visiting an Alpaca Farm in the Western Cape and received snippets of alpaca fibre and yarn to take home, along with a little fact sheet. This was a first for the Hayes children and they were very proud with there finished products.

Elize Van Der Merwe who blogs at BEARAKADEMIE shares a post on their first proper lapbook. Here follows the short story on the creation of their Creation Lapbook, which they all enjoyed doing in the end! 

This post features on the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers (SACH Bloggers) where South African homeschoolers share experiences, ideas, philosophies and much more.  You can join the carnival too by heading to the South African Carnival of Homeschool Bloggers sign up page. 
We hope you enjoy the carnival as much as we and may all these amazing ideas and tips, inspire and motivate you for your next lapbook.

With love
Blog Widget by LinkWithin