A BIG Box of LEGO

While sifting through a big box of lego the other day, I was watching our children and enjoying how much they delighted in each piece they found in the box. Each was a treasure discovered to examine, to test out and to imagine what it could become.

I was struck by how that box of lego was like the Bible. It reminded me of how you can read a bit of the Bible here and there without really building anything and without really having your heart in it –  or you can search and search the Bible, reading it with a passionate heart – and looking for the treasure within. The more you read the more the faith in you grows – you are slowly building something of eternal value – a heart after God.

Sifting through the lego box is actually part of the fun of playing lego, even if it does take a lot of time – always searching for the pieces you need. I was thinking how it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to build if you had everything all laid out and sorted – 3’s in this container, 2’s in this one and you just took what you needed without having to find it.

God has placed mystery and hidden treasure in the Bible for us to search for and to discover – if we really want to;   if we really desire to find Him.

“And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart”

Jeremiah 29 v 13

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The Bible and Bible Story Books – Our Life’s Puzzle Part 3

I’d like to talk a little about Bible story books – those “bible’s for kids” that you can get at most Christian book stores these days – those little story books that are often gifts at baby dedications and read in children’s churches and Sunday schools.

But before I do… I’d like to tell you a bit of our story…

My hubby and I have been on a long journey the past couple of years. We were active church members for about 15 years (not sure what that makes us) but only in the last couple of years have we really started to study the Bible for ourselves. We’ve read the Bible (or bits of it) lots before this – we did 2 years of evening Bible school but amazingly we never managed to comprehensively read or study the Bible ourselves. I think, in a way, we didn’t think that we needed to. We looked up all the verses that we were taught us in Bible school, we read Proverbs every day before work, we read the Psalms in the evening and we read bits of the Bible during our quiet times. We read from many different versions of the Bible. During that time I remember feeling that I wasn’t spiritual enough because most of the Bible was not that interesting to me.

As we grew in our parenting and homeschooling  journeys, we began to be inspired by some awesome families and I started to wonder about the Bible. My hubby and I read a fascinating book and I realized that I could no longer coast along listening to what everybody else told me the Bible said, but I’d have to study it for myself. The crux of the matter for me and the question I really started to ask myself was this: Do I really believe the Bible is the true inspired word of God?

“All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” 2 Timothy 3 v 16

–  or not?

If not, then how could I believe any of it? How could I trust what God said if I wasn’t sure which bits were true and which weren’t? Also, did I believe that God was capable of preserving His inspired Word throughout the ages and in my own language so that I could read and understand it and not have to rely on someone who knows Greek to explain it to me?

This was a scary place to be because the other side of the coin was this: If God’s word is true, if it is the inspired word of God then I’d have to believe all of it – even the parts that I don’t like. This meant that what people had always told me about parts of the New Testament being “because of the culture of that time and no longer relevant today” was wrong – I’d have to believe it all.

Long story short, after a couple of months of pondering, I decided to take the plunge and to believe God’s Word was true, inspired and available for me to read and study in my own language. The New Testament fulfills the Old Testament – Christ is the fulfillment of all things and the Bible is God’s inspired Word to us.


I still felt intimidated by all the pastors and Bible scholars who knew so much more than I did. How could I read and learn for myself from the Bible when they knew so much more than me? Let me tell you a well-kept secret:

That isn’t God’s plan!!!

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2 v 15

God’s plan is for us to study His Word ourselves! He wants us to know His Word and depend on it and SPEAK it daily!

“But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1 v 2

He wants us to read HIS WORD and know it and be able to CONTEND FOR OUR FAITH.

“…it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1 v 3

Thats not to say that we can’t be blessed and encouraged and taught by Godly men and especially by our husbands – but it is our own responsibility and WE CAN study God’s word ourselves.

I now see the Bible very differently – everything I read counts. Everything in there is there for a reason, can be studied, meditated on, thought about, pondered upon. Its amazing the difference it makes when you know you can trust the whole Bible – every bit of it.

Then hubby and I started to learn how to study the Bible ourselves. This has been so freeing for me – now instead of asking a “knowledgeable” person the answer to my questions, I am able to go to the Bible for my answer – and if I am stuck I am able to ask my hubby and trust God to lead him in His God ordained position to teach me from God’s word.

“And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home:” 1 Cor 14 v 35a

This is such a blessing to me as I find myself able to explain my question or my dilemma far more easily to my husband who knows me so well, rather than someone else. Of course there are times when we both seek the counsel of Godly men whom we know will answer us from God’s Word.

The way we are learning to study the Bible is this:

If I want to know what the Bible says on a particular subject: let’s say looking after our bodies, FITNESS, etc. (this is something on my mind a lot lately).

I would start by making a list of all the words that I might find in the Bible relating to this topic:

  • fitness
  • exercise
  • health
  • stewardship
  • temple of Holy Spirit
  • their god is their stomach
  • body

I would pray and ask God to help me and lead me to the verses as I search. I would try to remember any phrases that I know are in verses like these.

Then I would take my list and open a Bible online, I would click where it says “Search the Bible” and then do a search on each of these words. Of course, in the days before computers this would have been a lot more tedious using concordances if they were available or even reading through to find the verses yourself. We are so blessed to be able to get an instant list of the verses containing each word.

Then I word print out my list of verses and during my Bible reading time, I would slowly read each verse in context in my Bible. (I don’t like to do the actual reading online as I get distracted and am less able to focus on what God is saying to me as I read than when I am reading my own Bible.) Each verse that I read adds to my picture of what the Bible says about this topic. Each verse adds a new dimension and helps me understand the subject better.

Its totally amazing when you let the Bible interpret itself  – when you discover the meaning of words in the Bible by looking at all the times the Bible uses that actual word in context – you really are able to see for yourself what the Bible means!

We have discovered some amazing things! For example:

  • Did you know that Jesus meant the parables that he told to not be understood by everyone but only those who had “ears to hear”? Read the gospels and see for yourself.
  • Did you know that God actually hardened Pharoah’s heart (as a judgement) after each plague so that He would not release the Israelites and bring more plagues on Egypt? Read in Exodus and see for yourself.

It has been such a breakthrough for us. We certainly don’t see ourselves as superior to any other Bible teachers or Christians – but our AUTHORITY has changed – our final authority is now truly the WORD OF GOD!

So, after that very long story 🙂 back to my original topic.

I have become more and more concerned as I read the Bible for myself and as my husband teaches our family from God’s Word just how prevalent Bible story books are – everywhere! – and how they often replace the Bible in children’s churches, Sunday schools and in our homes. I grew up with Bible story books and they were great fun to read – they had some good stuff in them – and in those days at least the pictures were more realistic than the sweet little cartoon pictures of Jesus and His disciples in the modern bible story books – but my picture of Jesus was very different to what I am finding as I study the Bible for myself.

Can you imagine if we were taught Shakespeare in cute little cartoon pictures with easy words to read –  because it’s easier to understand? Don’t you think that’s kind of missing the point! Imagine what our picture of Shakespeare would be if that was our main exposure to his work.

How can we teach the Bible – God’s Holy Word – to our children by taking the stories out of context, leaving out many of the important details and endings, adding cute little pictures to them – and then telling them that this is God’s Word?

“And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22 v 19

Can you imagine what view of God our children are forming from these books? Do we realize how incomplete our picture of Bible history is from bible story books? I am constantly amazed when I read well-known bible stories in the actual Bible how much there is that I didn’t know and how much richer and fuller the stories are. They speak to me of God – of His character, His plan and His power – a perfect picture of God’s justice and grace.

What is our picture of God – how do we see Him ? How does the Bible depict Him? Do we really want to remove so much of His power, His anger, His majesty, His might and His judgement and replace it with sweet stories? I for one, do not!

Our children love to read and listen to their Dad teach them from the Bible. I think it would be an insult to them to be told that they are “too little” for the real Bible. They love the action, the power and the reality of God’s Word. They love that they are trusted with it and can delve in for themselves. They are growing up knowing and learning to understand God’s Word from a young age. They are growing up with a truly Biblical picture of God.

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Joshua 1 v 8

Our Story Part 1 – The Beginning

Our Story Part 2 – Business to Babies

Sovereign God

The weather has been very unpredictable lately. This morning, today’s weather forecast said: 60% probability rain 36mm expected and lightning / thunder storm . Usually the weather forecast is quite accurate, but not today:

Its been moderate sunny with a few clouds floating overhead!

I love that!  God is God!  He created the universe with such complexity and unpredictability – that no matter how many years we have been finding reliable ways to predict the weather; no matter how sophisticated our instruments, we can never get it right all the time. Its wild and its creative – like our awesome God!

Days like today remind me of how we cannot question who God is or what He chooses to do. It reminds me that no matter how much we try to “figure things out”. Often God chooses to do unexpected and hard things in our lives. Often we don’t know why God does things or allows things in our lives. All we can really do is walk in simple faith and trust Him – just like a little child does with his mom and dad.

Our almighty God is sovereign and we can only fall on our faces in awe and reverence before Him.

“And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Mark 4v41

Delicious Vegan Strawberry ‘Yoghurt’

We love to make this delicious version of ‘yoghurt’. If you are dairy intolerant – this is for you! Vegan and delicious!

This recipe is adapted from Serene Alison’s Raw Food Recipe Book Rejuvenate Your Life. This is such a wonderful inspiring book – especially if you are looking for a raw food cookbook by a Christian author – avoiding all the new age philosophies that often accompany raw food recipes.

So, here it is:

We have a large 1000W blender which surprisingly is one of the cheaper ones R350 – relatively easy to replace if it burns out. Most other blenders that I have seen do not go above 700W. It has a large 1.5 litre glass jug and I make lots of yoghurt at a time – enough for 8 people to have a small bowl of yoghurt each.

  • If your blender is smaller, try making half the recipe at a time.
  • The most important thing is to blend lots along the way so that you get a smooth creamy texture to your yoghurt – it shouldn’t be grainy!

To your blender add:

  • 1.5 cups filtered water (have another cup of water available to add slowly when your mixture gets too thick to blend. The yoghurt is great thick but can also be nice a bit thinner if you’d like to make drinking yoghurt for your kiddies to drink through a straw.)
  • 5 handfuls of cashew nuts
  • 2 handfuls of almonds

BLEND till smooth and creamy (add water if too thick)

  • In the meantime get out your coffee (or seed) grinder and grind 2 generous Tablespoons of raw flaxseeds (golden are best but brown fine too) – add ground flaxseed to blender
  • Add 2 teaspoons psyllium (available at health shops – this is a great cleanser for your colon and also helps to make the ‘yoghurt’ nice and thick)
  • Juice 4 lemons and add the juice to blender
  • Add approx 1/3  of a 500gram jar of honey (to taste – can add more later)
  • Add 2 Tablespoons of Flax Oil

BLEND TILL VERY SMOOTH

  • Add 350-400g frozen strawberries or blueberries (these help make the yoghurt nice and cold again after all that blending!)
  • Taste at this point to see if it has sweetness and tartness of yoghurt (you can either add more honey or more lemon juice if necessary)

ENJOY!

“Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. ” Revelation 22 v 14

Date Night!

About those date nights… We need special time with our hubby’s. We need time away from the usual hustle and bustle of our busy lives. We need time just to talk – just us. We need time in this busy fast-paced culture that we live in to be together, to connect and to be close!

BUT

Do we really need to spend money on restaurants every week putting more pressure on our family’s finances?

Do we really need to risk our children’s well-being by hiring baby sitters to look after them so we can go out?

There seems to be tremendous pressure on couples to do this to make sure that their marriage “gets what it needs”… perhaps you have felt this pressure?

Hubby and I used to go out for dinner every week but over the last couple of years we have instead decided to have our date nights at home. We now enjoy wonderful evenings at home each week. This really works for us! I can honestly say it is so much richer, more peaceful and special than going out ever was. Sure, there are more dishes – but we do them together and have wonderful conversations along the way!

As the evening approaches, we have some good time with our children as usual and put them to bed around 8pm. We usually eat all together at the family table but on date night we just have a snack while the little ones have their supper. I plan a simple meal for the children on that night – something like cous cous and vegtables. After the children are in bed, we finish cleaning up, chat and prepare our meal. I do most of the preparing and hubby does most of the chatting! Its a great chance for me to catch up on how things are for him at work and how he is feeling about things.

We set the table with candles and put on soft music. We love to listen to Christian love songs like Serene and Pearl’s “This is Our Road”. Sometimes our oldest daughter sets the table for us and makes little gifts to put next to our plates. She loves to do this and really makes it special. We put a beautiful tablecloth over the maps and worksheets under the plastic tablecloth 🙂

For the actual meal, I try to keep rolls or bread from whatever bread we have made in the previous couple of days so that we have bread rolls with our starter. We make a starter of a delicious salad or something with pesto. I pop some butternut or gem squash and peas into the steamer to go with the meat (lamb chops or such) which I have seasoned and placed into the crocpot at lunchtime. They are soft and tender and fill the house with a wonderful aroma. Other weeks we have vegetable lasagne or a fondue.

We eat our starters while the main course finishes cooking. We have some sparkling grape juice at hand and it feels just like our very own special restaurant! We linger over each course and do lots of catching up with each other – all in the peace and serenity of our blessed home! Sometimes we do this.

I try to have a little dessert in the freezer (we usually don’t eat dessert so this is specially for date nights) – Cheesecake freezes well and you can slice it into tiny squares and defrost two at a time – which easily makes dessert for the month!

We sit in the lounge together between courses if waiting for food to be ready and sometimes we even fit in a bit of dancing! 🙂 It works wonders and we feel so relaxed and close afterwards!

Just remember to keep an eye on those candles!!

“Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love [is] better than wine.” Song of Solomon 1 v 2

How Do You Cope? – Feeding Your Family

Lately, I have been through various stages of inspiration and frustration when it comes to feeding our family. I am blessed to enjoy cooking and to have the creativity to be able to experiment – but often its difficult to be creative with the time constraints of being a homeschooling family.

I plan our weeks meals 1 or sometimes 2 weeks in advance. I have a simple blank menu planner page that I print out and then fill in with pencil each week (for easy editing) and then follow roughly through the week. I often give the family a chance to contribute ideas to the weeks menu (Sunday supper table is a good time for us).

Lately, I was inspired by Kimberley from Raising Olives to cook some freezer meals. I went all out and made lots of big ones – and got thoroughly burnt out in the process! But I must say its been wonderful to be able to rely on those freezer meals when I have run out of energy for cooking on other days. I do prefer though to have fresher food like stir fries or steamed goodies more regularly. I need to find the balance between bulk cooking and regular cooking.

We have also been trying to cook extra meals to bless others with regularly – and that has been great fun. Our children get involved in making little gifts and cards for the recipients to go with the meals. This feels like a relatively easy way to be a blessing, although it does take its toll as I can get quite distracted and busy when the little ones need me!! I am learning the balance – slowly, one step at a time!

The “every second day” concept works well for me and helps me to keep up the good habits without becoming overwhelmed.  We have carrot juice every second day, homemade yoghurt (not actually yoghurt but a blend of nuts, fruit, lemon juice, psyllium, etc.) every second day,  cooked lunches every second day, etc. freezer meals every second day with cooking on every other day, homemade bread or homemade rolls or breadsticks or pita breads every second day. This helps me to have enough time for the children and to focus on other things than cooking. Of course, the challenge is to find the time to do the freezer cooking or raw food preparing – a Saturday morning every few weeks with lots of planning before hand seems to work for me.

I try to alternate easy homemade lunches like steamed corn on the cob or steamed potatoes with more time-intensive ones like roast vegetable salads or soup and breadsticks, or Raw Pizza (in the dehydrator)….

I also try to alternate easy snacks like popcorn or rice cakes with something a bit more time-consuming like Banana bread or carob chunk cookies.

More on this soon! Any ideas you can inspire me with? 🙂

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31 v 27

See also:

How Do You Cope?

How do you Cope? – Exercise

How Do You Cope? – Exercise

How do you fit in EXERCISE!? Hubby and I desperately need to get more exercise and we are struggling to fit it in.

About 2 weeks ago, we  decided to make a renewed effort and these are some of the things we are doing:

* Family walks on weekends and some evenings when possible.

Usually, though I need this time to catch up with cooking, cleaning, meal planning, etc. We have been getting into eating more raw food again (we used to do this lots and our health has deteriorated quite a bit since we stopped). The thing is, though, that it takes lots of time to make healthy raw food (in the dehydrator – or good salads and smoothies!)

* We are also trying to get into a running program – 3 times per week – but running is more hubby’s thing than mine. Slowly does it!

* Walking (or running) the dogs also works! The children love to come along for this – we try to keep it to one child at a time as the dogs are rather energetic and quite easily pull them off their feet!

* We have also started to have exercise time for 20 minutes in the evening with the little ones. Mom with the girls, and Dad with the boys. Its great when the boys blow off steam with Dad – they need that!

Us girls have a great time together. I have always loved aerobics and the times when I have got into doing it regularly have been the healthiest times for me – so we have so enjoyed doing my Aerobics DVDs set to Christian music. Even our 1 year-old manages to imitate some of the actions. I don’t wish to do exercise that takes me away from my children and also I don’t have huge amounts of time to shower after exercise, etc. – so this seems to be working best for me at the moment – long may it continue!

How do you find time for exercise and what do you do?

Of course, the quote has to be:

“For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. ” 1 Titus 4 v 8

As long as we find more time for godliness than for exercise, all will fall into place!

See also:

Part 1 – How do you cope?

Raising Olives – I’m Tired