The Beginning – Our Life’s Puzzle Part 1

I would like to tell you some of the story of our lives thus far – our adventures, travels, joys, struggles and our learning and growing together – the puzzle of our lives, piece by piece….

I hope you enjoy the journey!

Handsome hubby and I met almost 15 years ago at a lively student church where we were both starting to learn about the Bible – what it really said – and to read it for ourselves. We are still on that journey of learning to know God – reading, learning, adjusting our thinking and renewing our minds.

We had lots of special times together with friends, at cell group and in our church’s music ministry.

Hubby and I sought God about our relationship and He confirmed it for us. We got engaged about 8 months after we met, and we were married in May 1997 on a wonderful special day that began the story of us…

We are so aware of how God led us and blessed us in bringing us together and how he continues to lead us and teach us every day of our lives.

The thing I remember most about our wedding was walking down the line of people greeting us as we left the reception to our car – hugging each of them and saying goodbye – and being so aware of LEAVING to go and start our life together.

I also loved the ‘family’ness of our wedding. My Mom made my dress, did the catering and made the cake!!!

My friends plus hubby and I made the invitations, order of service and tiny wedding cakes for each guest. My aunt did the flowers. My younger brother and his friends were our waiters and waitresses and my sister in law played the violin. A good friend did the sound mixing for the band – which was made up of church friends! A lot of really special people gave so much to make our wedding wonderful! We were so blessed. I also loved the ringing of the huge church bell to announce that we were married!

Yay! Let the adventures begin…

In our first year together we lived for six months in a little house and then in an upstairs flat in Newlands in the Western Cape of South Africa. We enjoyed the close proximity to the forest, university and church. It was so wonderful to be able to be together all the time – we were like two kids playing house. We learnt about each other, about how to talk to each other – and how not to! I had lots to learn about respect and serving my hubby and he had lots to learn about understanding his wife emotionally. We grew in love.

Hubby worked in IT and I trained little old ladies in how to use the computer. We spent hours talking and talking…

We loved to go for walks on the beach,

… visits to the dam,

… and to have friends over for a meal.

We were both really immature in our knowledge of a marriage relationship – me of being a helpmeet and a homemaker… but God blessed me with the most incredible husband – who has loved me wholeheartedly and unconditionally through it all. He is my hero.

I am amazed as I look back how much I have changed (very thankful for that!!!) Although we had such special times together and good times with friends, we wasted a lot of precious time in frivolous pursuits and mindless entertainment – many, many movies, eating out, walking the shopping malls. We had no idea about the richness of family life and community – of having many wonderful precious children, of serving God with our family and our lives. We had only seen the commercial version. But God was at work – he hadn’t given up on us!

I am sad over the wasted years and over the frivolous way we spent our first years together, but I am so thankful to our wonderful Lord for the work he has done in us, the way he is changing us and all he has taught us through our lives together, through his word and through our precious children.

Sometimes we can be blind to what God is working in us and doing in our lives – but when we look at our life’s journey we see the threads of his grace woven throughout and His mysteries unfolding.

We spent a year overseas in Mountain View, California – the heart of Silicon Valley and we met some wonderful people there who sewed seeds in our lives and hearts which were to bear fruit much later.


See Part 2 of Our Life’s Puzzle here

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.” Psalm 139 v14,15

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Herb and Vegetable Garden Update

What’s new in our Herb and Vegetable Garden?

– a few lovely winter vegetables planted in the raised beds – ready to grow into delicious soup and stew ingredients.

We planted brassicas: red cabbage, cauliflower and brocolli. I put cardboard (cut toilet roll inners) around the base of the seedlings to protect them from cutworms.

 

We took out the zuccini and other scraggly leftover plants. We left all the thriving herbs and lots of space for new seedlings!

We planted kale (which is great for adding to fruit smoothies)…

 

… spinach, rocket and lettuce.

 

Our basil has been just wonderful!!

Look at these 1, 2…

3…

4…

5…

6 plants!

I keep having to pull off the flowers and cut them back well.

 

We fill two hugs ziploc bags every few days with basil leaves.

 

There is lots of homemade basil pesto in the freezer! I like to freeze it when I make it not only because there is extra but because it seems to last longer without getting mold on top if its frozen and then defrosted in the fridge overnight before using. I guess it kills some germs that have been introduced while being made.

 

There is dried basil in jars in the cupboard too.

 

Would you look at this comfrey plant! Look at the mint plant on the top left – see how tiny the mint leaves look compared to the comfrey leaves!

 

It looks like it belongs in the amazon jungle. I’m definitely going to make some comfrey balm and will blog about how to do that! Comfrey tea is also so good for you!

 

Yarrow plants looking good too. Yarrow is a wonderful medicinal herb. We have harvested many branches of stunning white flowers from these plants.

Also some wonderful crunchy spinach…

 

to go in salad and stirfry!

 

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, [and] the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed [is] in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. ” Genesis 1v11

Intelligence and Biblical Values

While considering Biblical and unbiblical values, we were talking about  intelligence.

Is intelligence in and of itself of eternal value? Just like a great musical or sports gift, is intelligence in itself something to be praised or revered? – or is intelligence the potential to perform or create something of eternal value, to make a meaningful contribution, to be a blessing to others, to be a part of God’s great plan? We need to consider our world-view and its impact on our lives in all areas. What message are we sending in our schools and in our culture / society.

Those with so-called “lower IQ” are certainly not of any less worth or value than those with higher IQ. Our intelligence is a gift  from God of potential that can be realised as He leads us – or can be left unrealised.

Handsome hubby and I will never allow our children to be labelled by having an IQ test. We want them to value Godliness – character, strength of heart, goodness, integrity, courage, temperance, perseverence . We want them to value what God values – and to realise that God works those things in us.

Perhaps it is pride that causes us to value intelligence so highly – an easy way to measure ourselves better than others.

Intelligence is of great value if used to fulfil God’s plan and purpose for our lives, if used to create things, inventions, innovations, teaching – these are all wonderful gifts that mirror our creator as we are created in His image – But we need to be careful what we praise in our children. Do we value and praise their intelligence above all else – or do we teach them the value of that intelligence in being a blessing to others and to this world and in fulfilling their God-given potential. Do we say “Wow – you are so clever!” Do we show that we value their character above their intelligence? Could they ever feel that their worth comes from their intelligence? Do we remind them that God looks at the heart?

What do we invest our time into developing in our children? Is it a whole lot of activities to develop their intellectual or physical abilities or is it time spent on developing character, learning to serve others, learning to work hard, learning to love God, to love life, to love others and to love learning along the way!

 

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.” 1 Peter 1v5-9

Organizing!

Organizing!! Even though I am a South African I like to spell organizing with a Z – it seems to give it an extra Zzing!! – plus it keeps my spell-checker from bugging me about it 🙂

There seems to be a lot of organizing happening around the blog world at the moment (although I’m quite new to the blog world, so maybe its been there all along!)

I am definitely not a very organized person though I absolutely love the concept of organizing. I get so inspired seeing the end result of what people have done to organize. I think the reason for the gap sometimes between being inspired by organizing and actually managing to complete it is the feeling of being overwhelmed! One step at a time – my handsome hubby always says! Bite size steps seem to help so much!

I’ve been inspired by Se7en and Organising Junkie to do my organizing in bite size chunks. Have a look at the organizing on their websites – you will really be inspired!

Its funny – many friends who know me well say that I seem very organized. I think what they see is the latest organizing project that I am so inspired by.  They don’t see the chaos in other areas. I am very slowly learning how to organise each part of our lives. Its wonderful to learn to prayerfully consider an area and plan how to organize it before even attempting to do so – that I learned from Organizing Junkie and definitely never thought of before. Its putting the systems in place that maintain the organization that help in the long-term – otherwise before you know it things are completely unorganized again.

A couple of years ago my hubby and I went through a big change of heart – and home…

We decided to simplify our lives in a major way. Believe me, we needed to!!! We moved from a huge house to a lovely snug house – and then we moved again as God lead us a year later. We so love the little house we are in right now. It fits us perfectly. Its not too big for us to keep clean, the garden is lovely, its just right – a real blessing! Many things have been simplified over the years but the organizing still has a way to go – most of all the keeping things organized part! I need to have a system that works for each area – and that everyone in the family can understand and help maintain. That is what I am working on!

So – this week’s area of organization – the kitchen grocery cupboard.

The children and I had great fun doing this. We took everything out of the grocery cupboard and shopping bags and then we played SHOP. They collected goods and I went shopping and bought things from them to restock the cupboard in an orderly way. They decided the prices, I paid them (from our jar of counting money) and they gave me change!

I always forget to take the before photos but here is the after photo.

After that we were so inspired we did the fridge too – though not quite as thoroughly I can see now!

Also, I just had to take a photo of this – I love our fruit bowl! The children polish off all this fruit in just a couple of days.

An area that needs prayerful thought and a good system is the children’s art supplies and art work. My children love to give their art work as gifts and hate to throw anything away (though we do eventually). We have a display table, art folders for big artwork, files for small artwork, art boxes for work in progress and “card” boxes for special things – plus a big box of old art work creations. We also have art supplies paper, cardboard, etc.  Whew!

(update – thats done, YAY! See Organizing Part 4: Craft and Art Folders)

I would love to hear if you have any good ideas for or links to ideas for organizing children’s crafts. Thanks so much and happy organizing!

My Organizing Journey so far:

Part 2 – Recipes & Cluttered Surfaces

Part 3 – First Set of Drawers

Part 4 – Crafts and Art Folders

Part 5 – The Fireplace

Part 6 – Puzzles and Activity Boxes

Part 7 – Recipes into the File

Part 8 – Hubby’s Desk Drawers

Part 9 – The Whole Office!

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31v27

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Our 2 year old boy asked during Bible time: “Can we sing the Moses song?”

“Which is the Moses song?” we ask.

He pages through our song file and finds one. He is adamant that is the one (he can’t read so maybe he recognises the shape of the song on the page?)

It turns out to be a song we haven’t sang for at least 2 months:

We are marching in Messiah’s band, the keys of victory are in His mighty hand, let us march on to take our promised land!

“Why is that the Moses song?”

… the promised land part, of course!

He must have been listening hard when Daddy read the Bible!

Have a look at the Bible verse below – amazing because his middle name is STRENGTH!

 

“Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” Psalm 8v2