09 April 2014

Homeschooling CJ - The End of A Season

He was only 3 or 4 years old when his Dad suggested we homeschool him. I thought he was out of his mind! Why would any parent in his/her right mind even consider homeschooling? I’m not a qualified teacher, although it was my first choice of occupation, but I was convinced I would mess up my child’s life forever! History now proved that I didn’t mess up his life although the general public, family and friends, may still believe I did.

When CJ was 5 years old Christo and I attended a Walk Thru the Bible conference. By the end of the first day, I had breakfast, lunch and supper with 3 total different parents who homeschool their children… this was weird! We talk about the year 1999. During that time there were only a few hundred homeschooling families in South Africa. What were the chances to meet 3 families - total strangers who homeschool their children, at a “Non-homeschooling conference”?

That evening, while quietly reflecting on the day, in a dormitory with 3 other couples, I had to confess to Christo, and God, I’m NOT at the conference to receive training in presenting the Walk Thru the New Testament Seminar for Children… No, I was here so the Lord could get my attention about Homeschooling…

Four months later, while I was past my due date with Baby Josua, CJ decided he was not going back to his Preschool. He needed to check on his mother when she was going into labour and after all, he was going to be homeschooled, why bother going back to a classroom, and missing out on real life!

As the saying goes: “The rest is history.” The week his brother Josua was born, we started homeschooling…. The first week was awesome. I would nurse baby Josua to sleep, while CJ was doing simple maths and then we would gather on the sofa, reading books. I could do it…

The “homeschool-honeymoon” was over within weeks. Baby Josua became more attentive and demanding, Heidi-Mari (only 3years old) needed stimulation too and I didn’t know how to do this homeschooling thing.  

It was during that time that Martie du Plessis, from Dynamis and her, then 13year old daughter Chamonix, visited Cape Town and the Lord miraculously worked behind the scenes that they stayed with us for a few days, before visiting the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. What I learned about my child and myself during those few days was amazing and we were more on track with homeschooling. 

The next year brought a heap of challenges. We moved into a small two bedroom house, the garage our storeroom, as well as homeschool room. There was no money for resources, I was isolated and very insecure. It was the year 2000, and I haven’t heard of the internet, let alone google or supporting homeschool Facebook groups…

Over the next decade our family grew from 5 to 10 and we moved another two times.

My life was dominated with pregnancies and nursing babies. Not an easy task for someone who didn’t plan this kind of life for as long as she could remember. Never in my life had I imagined having a larger family and homeschool them.  My extended family didn’t approve either and I was all by myself. 

Over the years there was a pattern of ups and downs, success and failures, victory and disappointments. By God’s grace, as my children grew up, I grew up too. There were countless sleepless nights and chaotic days filled with exhaustion, insecurity and doubt in my ability to make homeschooling work.  BUT there were also the times when the Lord encouraged me and graciously gave me a peep into the future. The future He was busy bringing together. Often I would fall in a pitt of despair, fearing that I was messing up my children’s lives.  Each and every time my dear husband would observe and speak words of peace and confidence, “Everything is going fine; they will be fine.”

There were the times when CJ won the World Wide Apologia Science Question of the Week Competition (twice) at the age of 14. Another when he started to do horse riding stunts for movies at the age of 16. All of these brought into his life by God’s invention.

As you can imagine many homeschooling curriculums came and had gone over the past 14 years, as homeschooling was becoming more popular. It became quite a maize to decide which curriculum is the ‘best’. It was necessary to be focused; to have a philosophy; to measure the homeschooling currents accordingly and make decisions that would correspond with and support  our goals in raising our Children. For us, homeschooling was a learning lifestyle, based on gaining life skills and searching for the calling on each child’s life.  Everything else was secondary to this one goal: to guide each child in finding their God-given dream, their purpose in life, and allowing God to show the way to fulfil that purpose.

Not much changed over the 14 years we homeschooled CJ. He was our visual learner, and the way we started out homeschooling him in 2000, was the way we homeschooled till the end.

As CJ grew older we were bombarded with questions about high school and what we were going to do for matric - THAT piece of paper you need, to move on to the next level of education.  When CJ was 13 years old we earnestly prayed about his future and whether we should pursue a more formal education to receive a matric qualification. Surprisingly the Lord was clear. It was not his will for CJ’s life to change his way of learning up to that point. We gladly accepted the Lord’s guidance and CJ continued with Maths-U-See, LLATL and Science, while participating in real life. 

Often his studies would be interrupted by periods of being on set for a movie;

Helping out in Dad’s health shop; pursuing a new interest like archery 

or just supporting his larger family in every day life, days of bad health, or the arrival of a new baby.

CJ gradually came to find his purpose and his future was taking shape. Then at the age of 17 we went through a time of doubt and we considered doing Cambridge. All possibilities was taken in account, but just a few months later, we strongly experienced the Lord calling it off. Again we gladly  submitted to the Lord’s will and just went on doing what we were used to. Waiting on the Lord’s next step.

This continued until CJ turned 19 years old in August 2013. He was still working on Algebra 2 and Pre Calculus, Apologia’s Physics and Gold LLATL, but I could sense in CJ a restlessness and lack in motivation. Christo and my prayers became more intense. “Please Lord, show the way, open the doors. CJ needs to move on now.” It was December 2013, when one evening, I went to my son and asked him, “If money was no option, what would you do with your life in 2014?” Without hesitation he answered, “I will start my Private Pilot License!”  CJ wanted to be a pilot, but for some reason he held back to pursue his dream.  He needed something to push him into the right direction.

Only days after that evening, somewhere between Christmas and New year I woke up with an intense knowing CJ must do GED. Oh, I was following the GED Yahoo groups and some friends’ children was doing it, but why in the world would we consider it? But that morning I woke up with another perspective, why not? As I was pondering the possibility, one thing was clear, I would NOT push my son in doing GED. I will give him the option and all my support, but it would be his decision. That morning at the breakfast table I brought up the subject and asked him if he would consider doing it. To my biggest surprise, his face lit up and without thinking twice he decided to do it!

Instantaneous CJ’s mood and attitude changed! There was new spark in his eyes, he was focused. It was almost like he waited for this all his life and he couldn’t wait to make it happen. 

January 2014 we registered with GED testing services and enrolled in the GED online tutoring. I also downloaded a Free Master the GED pdf file of more than 880 pages. I foresaw him doing the test the end of 2014, giving the year to prepare.  CJ was more adventurous and wanted to write the exam middle 2014. He started the second week of January, beginning with the Diagnostic tests in Master the GED. To our surprise CJ scored over 80% in Maths, and Science, 70% in English writing and reading, but just passed the Social Study section.  

CJ was motivated and excited! He now wanted to write in April. I outwardly approved, not wanting to discourage him, but seriously, he needed to be realistic and give himself enough time to prepare… 

During January and the first two weeks of February, CJ diligently worked a few hours a week on his GED, while continuing with his LLATL, Apologia and Maths-U-See. Then on the 10th of February I got a message from a friend, “Did you hear? The GED test facility in Cape Town is closing down permanently on the 21st of March?” It was such a shock, I first went into denial. For a few hours I just refused to think about it, to investigate or think about the implications… By the time I went to bed, I was in a panic. I couldn’t breathe and I was calling out to God, “What were we going to do!?” 

The next morning we faced the facts. CJ could still write the exams in Johannesburg, whenever he feels ready. Johannesburg is 1,500 km from here, we could book into a hotel for a week and write the 5 papers over 5 days, and it would cost us quite a few thousand rands! Or, we could bring forward his exams, write it in Cape Town before the 21st of March, giving us less than a month for final preparations, and see how it goes.  The latter option where the logical decision, after all we couldn’t lose anything, except the $50 for each paper, should he fail!

I was in total confusion! Dear Lord, why is this happening now? Why this pressure? But then, the name of my year is Soul Rest, the Lord knows how I’m prone to delay things under the excuse of perfecting it. Was this just yet another way the Lord is directing CJ’s steps, in spite of the human failures of his Mother? I knew the Lord was up to something big, but oh, my sinful nature threatened to overwhelmed me. 

For the next 2 and a half weeks CJ studied 5hours plus a day on the five subjects - Maths, Science, Language reading, Language writing and Social Studies. I will lie if I said it was smooth sailing. It was an extreme testing time for me. CJ was focused and enjoyed his learning; I was stressed and panicking. GED is a general knowledge exam. It fits perfectly in our philosophy of homeschooling, it sure would give an exact picture of what we did over the past 14 years and if our approach had worked.  

By the 1st of March I was a wreck, but CJ was confident he could do it. Dad took over from here, and would accompany CJ with every paper, driving him two hours in rush hour traffic and wait for him while he wrote the exams. By now I realised I couldn’t do this on my own. I frantically memorised scripture, wrote them on the walls and gathered an amazing group of Prayer Warrior Lady Friends to pray with me. 

His first paper was Language Reading and I almost lost it when I got the message he passed on the 86 percentile. I went down on my knees and could only praise the Lord over and over again. In spite all my stress, so much so that I became ill for 24hours on one of the days he wrote, the results came in one by one, with scores in the 96 and 98 percentiles for Science and Maths. The final subject was Social Studies. Though I thought by now I would get the message, the Lord is in control, He is doing a mighty work, it has nothing to do with me, I was more than nervous! 

There are no words to explain the relief, joy and praises when CJ passed Social Studies in the 90th percentile too. It was over and done!  CJ was officially finished with his homeschooling era and a new season was waiting on him! 

The Lord called us to homeschool him 14 years ago. We obediently did it, in total ignorance, full of doubt and fears, so much aware of our incompetence to make a success of it in ourselves. And this is the beauty of it all to me… This was God’s will for CJ’s life. It was the training CJ needed. It didn’t make sense in our human minds and I can now testify that most of the things CJ learned over the years, the Lord taught to him in his sleep - since that was what I prayed all the months I was exhausted from pregnancy or taking care of babies. 

The results of his GED exam too wasn’t out of our effort. CJ literally studied for a month. It was all the Lord’s working -  all that years of homeschooling- because we were walking in His will for CJ’s life. The Lord was our eyes when we could not see for 14 years! He gave us a dream, He directed our paths and He brought it all to pass for His glory. 

The next Sunday CJ celebrated the end of one season and the beginning of another by doing paragliding for the first time. 

As my son took off and glided into air, with the wind behind him, I praised the Lord for what He is going to do in my son’s life. The world was waiting on him, a dangerous world, with mountains and deep blue seas. But with the Holy Spirit as the wind to guide Him and the Lord’s wisdom to direct his choices, He will bring God glory! God already proved He is trustworthy with the future of my son!

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us,
to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus
to all generations, forever and ever."
Eph. 3:20-21

With much love


31 January 2014

The Pace of the Children

I was 29 weeks pregnant with CJ, when I got a serious bladder infection. First time pregnant in my third trimester, ignorant of possible dangers and implications of improper attention to a bladder infection, I just believed it would clear itself. During that time I was doing three jobs. Secretary for my husband’s business, mainly responsible for accounts, running my private dietitian practise, and working part time as a Consulting Dietitian at an Infertility Clinic. The Friday morning after I came down with the bladder infection, I visited the infertility clinic to consult a few patients. It was then that my gynaecologist friend spotted me and immediately knew I was seriously ill and the life of my baby was in danger. She immediately contacted Christo and within an hour I was admitted to the maternity ward. That weekend I almost went into premature labour and it was only by the grace of God that I was dismissed a few days later, baby CJ still safe and sound in my womb. 

I was instructed to stay in bed for another few days. The afternoon, after I was dismissed, I sat in my bed at home, reading my daily reading, Gen 32.

It was the passage of Jacob wrestling with God at Peniel, while he was in much distress to meet with his brother Esau, the first time after the betrayal of the first born right.  I read through the wrestling part and came to where Jacob met his brother, Esau, followed by the awesome reconciliation between the two brothers. And then I read a passage that in the past I didn’t even think twice about.

"Then Esau said, 'Let’s be on our way! I will go in front of you.'  But Jacob said to him, 'My lord knows that the children are young, and that I have to look after the sheep and cattle that are nursing their young. If they are driven too hard for even a single day, all the animals will die. Let my lord go on ahead of his servant. I will travel more slowly, at the pace of the herds and the children, until I come to my lord at Seir.'” Gen 33:12-14

The words just jumped out of the pages. It might be because I was very much confronted with the totally new responsibility I was facing. Taking care of a baby, another very small, little person, not even born yet, even more so depending on me and the decisions I make. 

During that weekend laying in the white hospital room very ill, unaware that they were preparing outside the room for a possible premature labour, I was confronted with the knowing that my life was not my own anymore. In the past I could work hard for long periods of time, pushing myself till I’m exhausted, satisfied with the results, and only then rest. That was exactly what I did the week before. My body was sending me warning signals, but I was determined to first finish what I’m busy with, keep MY pace, no stop till I’m done.

But that afternoon, almost 20 years ago, reading Gen 33:14, I was confronted with the concept of moving at the pace of the children. 

Numerous times over the years the Lord has gently reminded me and challenged me with Gen 33:14  

“…I will travel more slowly, at the pace of the herds and the children…”

Some time ago I got a message from a dear friend, who had her share of exhaustion with many little ones and illnesses, who had to cancel a special occasion. I encouraged her to be gracious on herself and her little ones, not feeling guilty. Her little ones now only needed her to move at their pace, to feel secure and safe. 

That weekend, 20 years ago, after reading Gen 33:14 for the first time, I called my husband, shared with him the passage and my conviction and together we made drastic changes. I closed down my private practise and limited my hours as Consultant Dietitian at the Fertility clinic to three times a week for only two hours. It was very hard for me to call my regular clients, informing them I have closed down my practise. Especially with my Type I Diabetic patients who were all between 6 and 12 years old. But it was all worth it. I carried CJ till two days before full term and he was born strong and healthy.

The year 2013 was a difficult year. I got more involved in my husband’s business, while still homeschooling the children and taking care of the home and meals. By the end of the year I was exhausted, but what was troubling, was the state of my little ones. They were crying and fuzzing almost constantly. Sibling rivalry skyrocket. They were disobedient and I could sense anger and frustration. 

By the 14th of December Heidi-Mari finished shadowing at the One and Only Hotel in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and our home could slow down. I stayed at home every single day over the festive season, giving myself the grace to unwind, but even more to just be there for my little ones, as well as my older children and husband.  The festive season was quiet and relaxed, the blessing I was praying it to be.

But it was only by the first few days of January that I become aware of the peace in my home and between my little ones.  I was the Queen of my home again. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the little ones any more. I was able to restore order again and confidently handle sibling rivalry. I noticed the four boys playing together in peaceful harmony more often, entertaining themselves and overall more content. They were safe and secure again.

Being the mother of my larger family was a joy and I was reminded of Gen 33.14. 

Moving at the pace of the little ones. 

Especially with older children who help in and around the house, I have to remind myself to move at the pace of the little children. Interesting it isn’t only for the benefit of the little children, but also for the older children, my husband and…. myself.  

Over the years Ann Voskamp’s words, “Life isn’t an emergency”, became part of my life, but did I really live by it?  

With the first month of 2014 over and done, I’m challenged to plan for a restful year. 

One of my 25 manifestos for the year is: 

“Watch Your No's, Your Yeses will take Care of Themselves.” 

I’m constantly aware to secure my days, my weeks; to not allow them to be filled to the brim.

The name of my year is “Rest”. I believe part of God’s plan for me to rest, is for me to be IN my home and move at the pace of the little ones.

I want to share Nancy Campbell’s Above Rubies FB message of the 22nd of October 2013:

Are you feeling frazzled? Is your stomach tied up in knots? Overwhelmed by motherhood? 
Dear mother, I think that often we feel weighed down and snowed under because we get involved in too many other things outside the home. It's so easy to get in the rat-race of running here and there and having our children involved in too many activities, isn't it?  
Many years ago I read a bumper sticker that said, "If a woman's place is in the home, why am I always in the car?" It isn't God's plan for us to mother our children running around in the car, but in the home. 
Can I encourage you that when life gets frantic, to take stock and look at what you are doing. I love the Knox translation of Hosea 11:11 which says, "In their OWN HOME, says the Lord, I WILL GIVE THEM REST." 
I know that all your running around is for good things. But, dear mother, don't let seemingly good things rob you of the perfect will of God. Even Eve, who walked personally with God every day, was not tempted by something that looked evil, but by what looked "good" and "wise" (Genesis 3:6).  
Watch out for deception and find your REST IN YOUR HOME.”

I have already made the decision to stay focused in my home this year. And by writing this posting I’m creating my own accountability.

Dear Mothers, move at the pace of the little ones and you WILL create peace and joy in your home, but even more, in your precious children.

He will feed His flock like a shepherd;
He will gather the lamps with His arm,
And carry them in His bosom,
And gently lead those who are with young."
Isaiah 40:11 NKJV

With much love

01 January 2014

The Year of Rest

After experiencing the Lord mightily in 2013, especially in the context of the name of my Year 2013, I was in great anticipation for what He wanted me to call this coming year - 2014.  

I started Naming the Year in 2011, after reading Ann Voskamp’s blog, A Holy Experience. There is power, growth, blessing in giving a name to your year - allowing the Lord to make you focus on one truth for 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days. This through joy and memory making moments, as well as despairing and disappointing situations. 

2011 was the Year of Rebuilding Relationships. It was my first year. To say the truth, quite a wobbly year, and by December 2011, I wasn’t sure I had accomplished my goal. 

2012 was the Year of Eucharisteo - Being thankful! It was just after I read One Thousand Gifts. It changed my life, my perspective and my picture of God, tremendously! It was a difficult year - two more miscarriages, after 7 healthy babies in 14 years. You can do the math, it wasn’t like I had any problems in getting pregnant or keeping my babies! The Lord sustained me with Eucharisteo.

2013 was the Year of Charis - Grace.

One thing I knew while praying for the Lord’s guidance in the Name of this Year, was that I want to have more of Him… more of His amazing grace that will pull me towards loving Him more and serving Him more, trusting Him more, so I would toil less, wait on Him, let Him be God in my life.

For a week, days before Christmas I prayed day and night. Lord what was the name of 2014 to be?  It came to me the day after Christmas, but I only recognised it a few days later. Three times over a few days I ran into verses with the name and it was only after it was posted on my Facebook wall that it hit me! 

Twice in 48 hours I got the verses in Matthew 11:28
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Then I got Hosea 11:11 in the Knox translation:
“And in their own home, says the Lord, I will give them rest.”

Oh, the joy and peace - I just knew it was right - REST.

The Lord wants me to rest in Him in 2014. Wow, what a hope, expectation, what a promise.

The past 3 months I’m studying Hebrews. And all the time while I was seeking the Lord for a name of this year, I knew it will have to do with the powerful message of Hebrews. The message of growing in my faith, but also in trusting the Lord more and more, pleasing Him more and more with my faith. But the most important, I remembered from the very first verses, “Entering His Rest.”  Oh, how I long to enter His rest, even more so since I’ve experienced his grace so powerful in my life in 2013.

It was almost like mountains lifting off my shoulders. The knowing in this year my goal will be to rest in my Lord. How I’m looking forward to undergo Real-Life-Training in How to rest in the Lord!

When I look back at the passing year, 2013, and how the Lord taught me about His grace in my life, I’m in absolute awe.  Coming from a conservative church as a child, grace was almost…. cheap. Everything was grace. Then in my thirtieth year I came to know the wrath of the Lord, and how He hates sin. He took us through the dessert and He taught us about obedience. He showed us His truths and how He long for us to walk in His truths, throwing off everything that entangled us - sin.  I came to know the Lord as the Lion, and not only the Lamb I knew in my first 25years or so. 

But as in everything when you stumble upon a new truth, you can easily become off balance. I only focused on truth and obedience. I knew I couldn’t earn my salvation, but I was pretty sure I could earn blessings from the Lord through my obedience. And whenever things went wrong, I was convinced I brought if over myself with disobedience of some kind. 

Through counting the gifts in 2012, I gradually came to see a new grace. A totally different grace than what I came to know as a child in the conservative church. Through 2013’s Name, Charis - Grace, I wanted to know the true meaning of grace. I wanted to experience my Lord’s grace. It was beyond what I could ever have thought or asked… The Lord just overwhelmed me with His grace and wiped out all the distorted believes I had about grace. Through real life experiences, often hopeless and desperate situations, He personally taught me about His REAL grace. The grace that He demonstrated to me on the cross, while I was still in the depths of despair, become more real in every day situations of despair and hopelessness. Nothing I did in the past, will do in the future or does in the present, could validate the blessings I received from the Lord in the Year 2013.

It overwhelmed me, day after day, and it was all grace. The beauty of it all was, the more I received His grace, the more I was drawn to God, to His love and to love Him. To love Him for Whom He is, my Heavenly Father.

As I studied the scriptures on Rest the past two days, it was awesome to read the true meaning of “Anapavo” - Rest. 
It describes a cessation from toil, a refreshment, an intermission.  
When I read it alongside Hebrews 4, I came to understand true rest come by diligently hearing the Word of God and to let it profit me, mixed with faith.  That was exactly what I sensed in my spirit, while praying for the Name of 2014.

How I long to be a Giant in Faith!  But for that to surface I need to go through gigantic tests of faith. That is a scary thought. I had to ask myself, why do I want to be a Giant in Faith? The answer: So I can rest, and have peace, while feeding on God’s grace and faithfulness, in this world of toil and hardship, lies and deception. This past year I came to have a taste of His grace, now I am in anticipation to experience all the facets of His rest in the next 12 months, 52 weeks and 365 days.

My prayer for 2014:
"Dear LordThank you for this Word. I’m so looking forward to experiencing your faithfulness in showing me You can give me rest in situations that I’ll see impossible. Just as you already proved Yourself faithful to extend grace in situations where I deserved noting, was beyond hope, with little or total lack of faith. Thank you Lord, I’m waiting on You.In Jesus’ precious NameAmen”

What is the Name of your Year?

With much love


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