SEE THE BEAUTY – The Beauty of Being a Keeper at Home

After we returned from our camping trip by the sea, I was determined to keep God’s peace in my heart and not to let business overtake me or rob my husband and children of my time and attention – my first and most important priority.

The washing lay around the house in piles – but was taken care of one step at a time – without losing my peace.

The hard work of getting back into normal life is always hectic – but exciting as I harness my heart and God leads me into the new week. I love to plan lots and look over the plans for the week to come so that I am excited and can draw the children in and get them excited too!

I am so blessed to be able to be what God intended me to be – a keeper at home.

I am so blessed to have those many hours to nurture and train up the little ones in my care.

I am so strengthened by God’s promise of blessings when we obey Him.

I am refreshed daily by the thought of a new day, a fresh start to do things God’s way with His help, His grace and His leading.

I am excited each morning to explore life and learn together. I love seeing life through the eyes of my children – the wonder and joy as they discover and learn.

I am encouraged each time I talk crossly or fail to put them first by the knowledge that its God’s grace and I am on this journey trusting Him to do it…

As I plan the weeks food menu I think about who will help me cook and the conversations we’ll have and the things I can share.

As I plan the school for the week and as I research the history, looking at the timeline I am so excited to share about God’s faithfulness and providence.

I am so excited to look at the globe together and read some wonderful books. I love that absolute silence that comes in the midst of a nail-biting story of danger, providence, bravery and hope – as the children hold their breaths and listen intently.

As I wash the dishes I mull over the day and pray for wisdom with the things that went wrong, the times that I was impatient and for areas the children are struggling in. New ideas come and I am refreshed.

I love being at home where we set our own pace away from the crazy rush of the modern world. I love the rhythm of our days as we move from one thing to the next.

As I plan the crafts for the week I feel stretched but excited that God is changing me and working in me eternal character as I do things that don’t come easily. I am excited to see the children enjoy it all so much, it makes all my time and effort so worthwhile.

As I think about what songs to sing, what music to listen to and what books to read… I realise how blessed I am – and I SEE THE BEAUTY of this wonderful journey of motherhood that God has put me on.

I am so blessed to be able to help my husband and to be a Keeper at Home.

“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” Titus 2 v 3-5


Budgeting Part 2

Click here to go to Budgeting Part 1

So, if you are ready to begin the budgeting journey – where do you start?

May I just say, to use a budget effectively – you do not need to be good at maths, or using a spreadsheet…

you just need to be determined and to persevere!

1. I would recommend that you start by making a list of all the expenses that you know of – just brainstorm. Its best to do this on a piece of paper to start with and then transfer it to a spreadsheet later. You don’t even need to worry about the amounts yet. Just write down the names of any bills you pay, things you buy regularly, etc. Don’t worry about the order of items or categories yet, just the names of what will become your budget items. Your list might start something like this gas (petrol}, car insurance, household insurance, monthly rental, food, eating out, hardware, garden, telephone landline – and cell phones, internet, clothing, etc.   Try to be specific but don’t go into too much detail with things like food – broad budget items can be broken down later.

2. Add an estimated amount to each item – you can refine the amounts later, just get something down

  • Some items on your budget may be fixed like monthly rental or bond payments – these amounts are easy to record.
  • Some items vary each month like your telephone, electricity or water. A good amount to start with would be to take an average of the past 3, 6 or 12 months. Remember that your winter electricity or water bills might be different to your summer ones, etc. so adjust your estimate accordingly. Don’t worry if it is not quite accurate as the first month will just be a trial run and you can update amounts as you go. If you’d like to use a spreadsheet to calculate your average there are many ways to do this but a simple was is to go to any cell on the spreadsheet (if your amounts are R563, R668, R445, R545, R633, R677 then you would type the following =(563+668+445+545+633+677)/6
  • There will also be items on your budget that you don’t know what to record. This is where the budget will be greatly effective and be a great help in showing you where the money goes. You need to learn how to plan for and record everything you spend without it being complicated and cumbersome.
  • note – I would find this pretty much impossible without internet banking – I highly recommend that you sign up if you haven’t yet. Let me know if you have concerns about its safety as my hubby is an internet security specialist and I can tell you a bit about how it works.

For the first month you should build a buffer of about 5% of your total income into your budget because many of your budgeted expenses will not be accurate and may be under the actual cost. You can do this by adding a budget item called buffer and calculating the amount.

3. Once you have written down everything you can think of, have a break and come back the next day to do the next step. This will help you to think of budget items you may have forgotten and to complete your list of potential budget items before continuing to the next step. Add items to your list as you think of them. Here is a list to get you started… look through this list for ideas but don’t add things unless you are sure you need them.

4. The next day start by adding to your list any items you can think of, then…

  • Read through your list and try to make a new list of categories that the items fall under. e.g. Bank choose names for your categories that suit you. I find this works much better than trying to use categories someone else came up with. Here are some ideas to get you started: HOME EXPENSES, DAILY LIVING, SAVINGS, INSURANCE / RETIREMENT, VEHICLES, OUTINGS / MEALS OUT, UTILITIES, – or you could group DEBT into one category, or FIXED MONTHLY PAYMENTS into one category. What works for you?
  • Try to group all your budget items under the categories ending with a category called miscellaneous for those items that are once off or irregular or don’t fit anywhere else. I have many individual items which I put into the budget each month. I find that works much better than just having a general “extras” category. So in a given month the last few items on my budget under miscellaneous might be DUVET COVER R200, GARDEN HOSE R300, MOM BIRTHDAY GIFT R?,  MAKEUP R300 as we think of things we would like to purchase that month. MAKEUP is an example of an item that only needs replacing every 6 months or so but is expensive enough to be added as an individual item.

You are now ready to start entering the information into your spreadsheet

Come back tomorrow to learn how to go about this…

Our Week in 10 Pictures – 14 Nov 2011

Cutie Pie – reading books!

Fireman princess 🙂

Towers of Babel under construction.

Great concentration…

and attention to detail.

We gave each child a set of materials to use and set up the competition to see who could build the tallest tower. Dad was the judge and Mom helped the little ones.

The almost winner… her brother won in the end because hers didn’t stand for long but great fun was had by all!

Gotta test out those ponchos!

Summer is here – wonderful water to play in!

Smile for the camera!

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” Psalm 57 v 7

Budgeting Part 1

Its hard to take the plunge and start a budget…

…and where do you start?

You could try downloading a template but I find that you usually have to change so much that its actually easier to start your own.

You need a spreadsheet program and a very basic knowledge of how to use it. If you haven’t used a spreadsheet before, don’t worry – I mean VERY basic. All you need to know how to do is: enter information into the cells, create formulas for adding and subtracting and a few other small things. Spreadsheets are really easy and if you like numbers you’ll love the way spreadsheets work. I will tell you how to do these things as we go. Its great fun – and a great way for your children to learn more about computers and numbers as they help you with the shopping list, etc.

Each family is different and some husbands like to do the budgeting themselves and others like their wives to do it or to do it together. In our family I do the budgeting and my husband okays it all. I keep track of the nitty gritty, plan and set out the budget and then operate it through the month. He glances at it once or twice but doesn’t have time for much more – that works for us. Its funny because I’m actually not good with money (but I’m learning!) I am good with the planning, the numbers, the calculating – I love that part – and I’ve become good with the keeping track but I need to be accountable or I spend too much. My husband provides the accountability – other than that he gives me complete freedom with the budget which is a blessing – we talk about major decisions and he always says if we spend more than planned on something, then we first have to see where its coming from (i.e. to spend less on something else.)

I’ve learned through my mistakes, and I’ve learned where to pad the budget for the unexpected – and where it is wasteful.

I will be taking you through the steps that I have developed over many months to make not only budgeting easier but sticking to your budget, shopping to your budget and updating as you spend, planning shopping lists to print, etc. – all from your budget.

It takes many months to get it right as you build your budget so adjust your expectations – don’t expect too much too soon and don’t be discouraged or lose heart – keep at it!

Budgeting part 2

“He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the LORD, happy [is] he” Proverbs 16 v 20

Friday Funnies – 25 Nov 2011

Remembering our children’s funny moments! Our children love to look back and laugh at the cute things they said.

(gg stands for graceful girl and bb for brave boy!)

Mom: “What state is New York City in?”

BB age 4: “Which?”

Mom: New York State

Dad: Which State do you think Kansas City is in?

GG age 6: Kansas

Dad: No, actually its in Missouri, next door

GG age 6 (considering): Maybe they ran out of space!


GG age 6 (to Dad during Bible time): Do the Phillistines come from Philadelphia – just like the Babylonians come from Babylon?


GG age 6: Mommy, I’m so used to sleeping that sometimes I don’t expect it to be morning.


GG age 2: What’s that body called, Daddy? (pointing to person on book)

Dad: That body’s called Henry


BB age 3 is full of memorable sayings – here are some of the latest…

– talking about God’s presence during worship time – “I want to open God’s presents.”

– “I like meat! strawberry meat and pineapple meat.”

– “This song makes me funny”


I’m on Daddy’s roof! was BB age 4’s comment on being on Daddy’s shoulders.


Dad to BB age 2: “Come on Munch! (mommy’s nickname for the little ones) BB age 2: “I’m not! Cause you musn’t say that, cause you not a mommy!”


BB age 2: Its not cold, its rainy! (because the weather chart only allows one or the other.)


Mom: “Thank you very much in Afrikaans is baie dankie.” BB age 2: “Buy a donkey – but I’m going to buy an elephant!”


En route to Washington DC (virtual travel) “We are going to Washington ABC, Daddy!”

Then, “Is Washington ABC a teddy bear?”


BB age 2 (looking contemplatively at Mommy): Are you too big to stand on the step? (the small step at the bathroom basin)

Mom: yes, I’m too big!

BB age 2: Then how will you wash your hands?

What are some of your children’s funnies?

“Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.” Psalm 126 v 2

SEE THE BEAUTY – The Beauty of Creation

We went camping recently – to an absolutely beautiful place by the ocean. There was the sound of the waves crashing, the smell of the salty sea in the air, the breeze blowing through lots of huge trees all around us – lots of places to explore and disappear into little hidey-holes (that my children nick-named the Amazon) We walked and splashed among the rock pools, discovered a tiny perfect shell of a crab, collected all kinds of treasures – sea shells on a beautiful white beach, leaves in the woods, sticks around our tent for the fire and stones to add to our collection.

Camping is hard work and yet it is incredibly refreshing to the heart. I felt so close to God, so strengthened and renewed. There is something about being out in God’s beautiful creation that makes you SLOW DOWN and enjoy Him, enjoy each other, enjoy the beauty of our world.

“O LORD our Lord, how excellent [is] thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens.” Psalm 8 v 1

I am always amazed when I think of God creating the substance of the earth from nothing! – of God creating the ocean, the animals, the trees, the sky, all so powerful, so vast and so breathtaking – all to operate in such perfect harmony and beauty. Incredible!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” Psalm 19 v 1

It makes me fall more in love with God.

I see His power reflected in the waves crashing onto the rocks and the wind blowing in the dark of night all around our tent as we snuggle inside.

I see His beauty reflected in the endless beaches, the tiny shells and the still blue waters.

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2 v 14

I see His tenderness and love reflected in my daughters precious face as she runs to show me a treasure discovered.

I see His majesty and timelessness revealed in the giant trees towering over us with their great limbs and roots stretching out in all directions.

I see His mysteriousness and his faithfulness reflected in the blue skies and the bright stars above.

It puts everything in perspective again. It helps me see that He comes first and that my time is to be spent as He wills it. My time with my husband and children and my investment into their lives and the lives of others is what will last for eternity. It reminds me to keep close to Him for that peace that rules my heart.

Thank you, dearest God.

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1 v 11-12

Our Week in 10 Pictures – 21 Nov 2011 Camping

What a wonderful time we had camping by the ocean!

Setting up the tent – little ones learning the ropes.

Outdoor meals are the best!

So peaceful…

Beautiful view of the ocean and miles of space to ride around.

Wonderful trees to climb.

Sandy beaches to explore.

Beautiful waves and precious little boys…

…and girls – burying their feet in the sand.


and nights in the tent.

So refreshing, such fun, what a blessing it was!

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul” Psalm 23 v 2-3