Monday, December 21, 2015

|| flexibility ||

I have to laugh at myself and one of the ways I have been forced to change over the past few years of marriage and living here.  That is: flexibility in cooking and baking!!

Back in the day, I wouldn't make a recipe if I didn't have the EXACT ingredients.  That gradually eased a bit before I was married.  But now, flexibility is my new middle name, whether or not I like it.  :)

We have a decent grocery store here in town and I shop there once a week.  But I go to the capital city once a month and there I pick up my extras.  Frozen peas, frozen corn, creamed soups, special condiments, frozen berries... to name a few.  

I rarely have sour cream (which I truly miss) but I just use farm cream and squeeze a bit of lemon in it or white vinegar if I need it to be sour.  I've made my own cottage cheese before in a pinch.  Sometimes, recipes don't taste as good as they would back home with the exact ingredients but I have found that usually, the plan works.  

Take that picture above.  Someone was coming for dinner.  (I think it was unexpected.)  I didn't even look at a recipe.  Made the crust.  Peeled the apples.  Sprinkled a bit of sugar, a squeeze of lemon, dotted with butter, oops!  forgot the cinnamon....and popped that baby into the oven.  

One thing that defines our life here is flexibility.  Plans change in the blink of an eye.  It is definitely not always easy but the more flexible a person is, the easier living here becomes.  :)

Thursday, December 3, 2015

|| morning in the life of a toddler mom ||

[ morning porridge -- almost exactly the same as grits, if you grew up in the South ] 

Liesl is SO curious.

Our house is VERY small for an active one year old.

I'd love to follow Liesl around with a camera for even 15 minutes when she is on a rampage.  I promise you, it is a sight.  There are enough things in our house that are "no".  So, we allow her to make a mess -- empty the sock bin, pull the shoes off the rack, pull Papa's pants off the shelves, open her cupboard and pull out all her bottles.  And the VERY good thing is -- she's starting to learn to put away!!!  Woooooohoo!

[ see what I mean? ]

Every once in a while, a new thing will keep her fascinated.  This morning, it was a small bottle of baby lotion.  It kept her quiet and busy for over 15 minutes.  

I am so, so grateful for an active, healthy, busy, curious child.  Truly, I am.  When I think of some moms who have handicapped children -- their houses perfect and clean -- I'm sure their hearts wince with pain at the cleanness -- having a mess to clean up is a true blessing.

[ aaaaand....she still takes a good hours nap in the morning PLUS her afternoon nap -- big huge, mommy high-five there ]

[ mommy quiet time -- Chips Ahoy!!!!!!!!!  Chips Ahoy!  And loudly I cry, "Chiiiiiiiiiips. Ahoy." ]

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

|| dailies 105 ||

Here's another small glimpse into daily life here.

How do I best communicate with family and friends back home? Networks? Data? Monthly plan?  Internet?

Ok.  Here's how it works.  There are three national networks here for cell phone service.  Instead of buying a monthly plan, a person will buy what we call "talk time".  They come in increments as small as k2 and up as high as k100 (probably higher but I've never seen that).  

Today, I realized I wasn't receiving any messages through my Whatsapp while I was in town.  Upon checking my balance, I discovered it was at 0.  So while driving through town, I honked my horn at the guy at the railroad line and he came chasing the car with a fistful of talk time.  

k50 will last me a while if I watch my DATA.  Now on to the next topic.  In the States, you don't even think about data.  You just download videos, pictures, browse the web, search for a recipe while you're in the grocery store, check FB, download new apps, etc...etc...

(....this is how we feel when the talk time has finished on the phone....AND internet is down....)

It is so different here.  I am constantly watching my data.  In fact, the service I use has recently updated their data plans and they haven't been working to my advantage.  My talk time is getting eaten alive.  I plan to implement a new rule with myself to limit my data usage even more!

New topic:  best way to communicate.  I love Whatsapp.  If the internet is down or I am in town, then I have to turn on my mobile data to use Whatsapp.  But it is the best way to communicate.  My mom and I text just about every day that we don't talk.  AND, I've recently discovered the joy of making a call through Whatsapp.  My Mom and I talk at least once a week (sometimes two or three) through the phone call service of Whatsapp.  It works out so much cheaper for me than calling through the regular phone line.

But, really, how expensive is it to phone the States?  It truly is very inexpensive, especially if I call late at night.  If I want to call my grandma or wish someone a Happy Birthday, I try to do it after 9 pm. A 15 minutes call is literally a dollar.  

We do have internet on the farm but once again, we have to watch our data.  Some of us try to save our downloading until after 6 pm.  Others of us....well, we just push the limit as far as it will go!!!  haha!  So thankful for internet, though!!  It is a blessing to have on the farm.

Another peek into life here...!  :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

|| travels: Dubai ||

Here's something I haven't blogged about..our accidental stopover in Dubai!  To and from my brother's wedding, we went through Dubai.  Leon has always wanted to go there.  

On the way home, airport staff grabbed us right as we exited the plane.  I thought they had a super-speed transport to take us to the next flight.  On the contrary, we were stuck.  In Dubai.  Away from our baby girl.  I was heartbroken.  

But, it was a great detour.  We were able to hire a private taxi to take us around the city (and snap a few photos of us).  We were thoroughly impressed with how clean and safe and gorgeous Dubai is.

(this place reminded of the San Antonio Riverwalk)

Also, there is a couple that lives there that are family friends.  So we were able to meet up with them for a quick dinner.  The prices in the shops were affordable.  I could have bought another suitcase full of goodies but luckily our bags were packed to the gills.

beautiful goods

The next day as we eagerly checking in, we were pleasantly surprised to find we had been upgraded!!!!!!!  NOW, I could have really gone shopping.  Those overweight bags were free!!!  That spoiled me and Leon proper and that was the fastest seven hour flight we'd ever been on.  

Best part of all?  Kissing our baby girl at the airport.  :)

Friday, November 13, 2015

|| something fun ||

I am so glad that the youth group I was a part of in high school did lots of outdoor things!  Sidenote:  smart leaders, considering teenagers are very loud.  Hence, I love bonfires.  There is something incredibly quaint about a silly, little bonfire but it is simple. 

Here we live in a climate that is accomodating to bonfires nine months out of the year and I still hadn't had a bonfire yet on the farm!  I've had big, grand plans of doing a dinner and marshmallow roast way out in the fields....under the night.  Reality:  I'd probably pick the wrong spot and burn down all the good grass.  Anyways, I'd have to snatch three workers to help me and that ain't gonna happen (let's be real!).  

Finally, I put my foot down and said to myself:  I'm building a bonfire.  Tonight.  In our garden.  

There's a small grove of fruit trees and one of the trees had to be dug out a few months back.  There was the perfect little hole.  I threw some wood in, doused the surrounding area in water, and tried my hand at starting a fire for a little date night.  

Leon came to my resuce and made a nice, roaring blaze and now we have the perfect pit.  

Since then, we've invited friends over for a simple meal and roasted marshmallows.  Amazing how the simple things in life are so pleasurable!

trim.460CB4A4-F1B8-4F01-BEAB-A44485481C1A from Rebecca Staal on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

|| God cares ||

Last year around this time, I casually mentioned to Leon that I would love to have my bike shipped here one day.  I knew it wasn't high on the priority list but it was one of three things I would love to have imported.  There's a really great company that we use to ship things here and they ship a lot of bikes for organizations.

Literally days later, my brother called and asked if I'd like to have my bike.  Shipped here.  For free.  Bam.  Boom.  Done and dusted.

I could not believe it.  No one knew about my (small) desire to have my bike here.  But God did.

When I see that bike sitting outside, I am reminded that God does care for the smallest little desires of our hearts.  Is God a genie waiting to grant our every wish?  No!  But He uses opportunities to show us just how much He loves His children.  It is truly amazing!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

|| dailies 104 ||

^^unedited beauty^^

The mornings here are pretty glorious.  My only dislike is that we can't fully enjoy them because they start fast and furious.

We have made a rule that we don't pick Liesl up until 6 am.  That little stinker normally wakes up around 5:15 but will drop off to sleep again if we don't peek our heads in her room. Once she's up, she's busy.

Register is at 7 am each morning.  This is where all of the farm workers check in for the day.  The dairy guys have already been busy milking for at least an hour.  The maids for the house are busy making porridge and tea.  They come as early as 6:15 (depending on the day) to bath, and get their day going.  

At register, Leon dismisses the guys for all the various jobs.  There's dairy guys, irrigation guys (moving pipes and sprayers to keep the grass nice and green for the cows), two to three herdsmen that take the cows outside the electric fence during the day for grazing, and general workers.  

Like I mentioned in my last post, Liesl very often goes with Leon to register.  This is my time to get ready for the day, put my pot of coffee on, make sure the girls' desks are cleared for school and their books are out, and sort the laundry before my maid comes.

Also, depending on the loadshedding, mornings are different.  For instance, tomorrow morning, the power comes on at 8 am.  So...there's not much to do.  I probably will wait to make my coffee and get ready a bit later.  Other days, it goes off at 8 am so that's a real rush. On those mornings, I try to get up super early and get at least one load of laundry in and out on the line and any other tasks that involve electricity.  

Back to the gorgeousness of the mornings.  The weather is picture perfect.  A slight coolness and gentle breeze.  It is the quintessential summer morning almost all year round (except the dreaded winter -- my worst season here).  Despite the cold mornings of winter, there's a misty haze rising off the pastures that is breathtaking.  One must stop then to enjoy it because coming back even five minutes later, the fog has dissipated.  

The beautiful mornings truly makes one think of the verse, "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are NEW EVERY MORNING; great is thy faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

Monday, November 2, 2015

|| Liesl baby ||

My precious, precious, spirited, lively girl.  Oh how we LOVE YOU.  Daily, you make us laugh and catch our breaths.  Your papa and I look at each other and say, "She is so gorgeous.  What did we do to deserve such a beautiful baby girl."

Even at just a few weeks old, we could see your fiery personality. ^^

You are constantly on the move, mimmicking our actions, and our words.  Of course, you say (and know) MaMa and PaPa.  You are crazy about your cousins.  To you, both of them are Teija (TA-yah).  When you see them from a mile away, you scream, flap your arms, and shout, Teija! Teija!

You also say duh-ees (duckies) and fis-ees (fishies).  Your parents (in classic first-parent-fashion), are pretty sure you can count to three.  We count your ducks every time you bath....which is twice a day (sometimes three times!!).  

Which leads me to the next thing we LOVE about you.  You are a farm girl, through and through.  You are up and at 'em with the sunshine.  We only pick you up at 6 am.  By 7, you are ready to go with Papa to register.  And if he even dares to sneak off without taking you, you yell, PaPA! PaPA! And stretch your arms out wide and beckon him to come back.  In a few months, he won't even have a choice.  You will be running after him.  :) Soon, you will be in the fields with your daddy for the entire morning.  You love animals and dirt and water....all in classic farm girl fashion.  

There's so many things that I don't want to forget about this stage of your life.  Goodness, the time has flown.  How is that you are almost one year, three months old?

Liesl baby, we love you.  We thank God for you very, very often and pray that you become His child and that He uses you in a super special way.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

|| dailies 103 ||

These are Liesl's two little bedtime buddies, Elle (#1) and Moo.  Elle has been her pal since birth and Moo joined the party at Omie's and came home with us.  Well, they needed a bath the other day.  They looked cute hanging on the washing line. So, I thought I'd take a photo and do a little post on laundry.  

Remember, I'm trying to dissolve all the big, scary myths of living here.  Yes, we have a washer and dryer (surprise, surprise!).  :)   The machines are located across the small yard from my house in the laundry that Leon's grandfather built. Unfortunately, our dryer is not blowing hot air at the moment.  But we are managing just fine because we are entering the hottest months of the year.  Laundry dries within an hour or so on the line...a little longer for heavier items.  

Laundry has always been my #1 favorite household chore.  There are a few things that I miss about doing laundry back home (namely: Tide, dryer sheets, and the convenience of a machine in the house).  But that is outweighed by my favorite thing about laundry here.  That is:  hanging the washing on the line.  I feel so domesticated.   I love it!!  And the sunshine smell is amazing.  

We had a full-time laundry maid up until a few months ago.  For various reasons, we do not currently employ a full-time girl for laundry.  It is working out fine, though.  Between me and my maid, the washing for this house gets done.  And for my sister-in-laws house, her maid does their washing.  For all the extra washing (church towels, main house linens, etc...), that is shared between all the maids.  

Also, with the power cuts, laundry duty has gotten a lot more interesting.  Sunday and Monday, the power is out from 8 am - 4 pm which is basically the working day.  So I've begun doing a few loads after church on Sunday night and hanging it on the line for it to be done for Monday morning.  Monday and Tuesday have been a bit hectic this week so my ironing pile is massive.  Zondi is going to be ironing for at least an hour tomorrow!!

About the ironing...right before I was married, I remember someone looking at me in mild disgust and surprise before mentioning an exaggerated fact they had heard about living here. That is:  putzy flies (not sure of the spelling).  Supposedly, putzy flies embed themselves into every piece of wet clothing that has exited a building and then they implant their eggs into your skin and you have to squeeze a worm out!  Ewww.  Uh, not really.  Out of all the family members who have lived here over the past 50+ years, only one putzy fly occurence floods into the memory.  Is it possible? Yes.  Is it likely?  Not really.  So  what do we do?  We throw everything into the dryer for a short while as an extra precaution.  Right now, the dryer isn't working.  We iron basically everything.  Putzy flies are attracted to wet, stagnant clothing.  That isn't possible in the current heat.  It is most likely to occur in the rainy season.  So we most certainly will have that dryer fixed by November.  Even in the rainy season though, it is possible to avoid a putzy fly.  

I am also ironing more than I normally would at this point because the dryer is down. It makes the clothes softer and enhances the softener smell.  Oh.  And I brought back two massive boxes of dryer sheets from the States.  On top of the sunshine smell, clothes tossed in the dryer with a dryer sheet just about equals bliss.  Which reminds me that I need to get on the dryer repair process!!!

So there you have it.  Laundry.  One of my favorite dailies about living here.  :)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

|| the pottery man ||

In our town, this man is known for his pottery.  Prior to my trips to the States, my sister-in-law and I stopped by his place.  I wanted to buy a few small gifts to take back home.  Unfortunately, Mr. Luckson had been busy for a while so he didn't have a huge selection.

However, Mr. Luckson gave us a tour of his studio!  My goodness.  What this man produces on so little.  It is truly humbling.  He also threw a bowl while we were there.  All of the clay is gathered locally.  Every step of the pottery making process is done by him right there.  The only product from outside sources is the glaze.   




And this is his kiln....

The kiln is completely handmade and heated by electrical coils inside (you can see them a bit to the left).  When he is ready to fire, he bricks up the front.

I was absolutely amazed by the limited resources he has yet he continues his craft.  Two of my favorite pieces of his are a mid-sized bowl that I use for fruit and a gorgeous pitcher that my sister-in-law designed.

Seeing Mr. Luckson throwing the pottery on the wheel really brought life to the verse Isaiah 64:8.

          But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we are all the     work of thy hand.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

|| dailies no. 102 ||

Sometimes, I join Leon for his afternoon walk.  I think Monday nights will be my weekly walk because we have no power at that time every week.  Last week, I caught some beautiful snapshots of the afternoon.

It is so beautiful, so peaceful here on the farm.  When I'm out walking, I am overcome with the beauty in my life and I wonder why I don't go for a walk more often!!

Here is a classic picture of life here.  Yes, we have green grass.  BUT, you must irrigate.  :)  On the right is grass that we are letting rest for the winter.  Soon, the rye grass on the left will die and the star grass on the right will be fertilized and irrigated.  

These fields are for the night grazing for the cows.  The watchmen count out a specific distance and set up the electric fence.  The cows are put in there to graze after the afternoon milking.  They eat their fill, then are put in paddocks closer to the milking barn for the morning milking.  

One major thing Leon has completed this year was to lengthen the electric fence around the farm.  This has done several things.  First of all, it has made the paddocks in the picture above more organized and clear.  (I guess, this would be an improvement for me alone!!)  Now, it is very easy to see how the night paddocks are laid out.  Before, I struggled to understand where the cows were exactly and where they were going next.  Now, you can clearly see the two fields of rye grass and the two fields of star grass.  Also, he has managed to get at least one ant hill flattened and lots of rubbish trees removed because of installing the new fence.  Another benefit of the new fence is that the cows don't have to walk as far for night grazing and they are safer within the realm of the electric fence.  Lastly, having a wider electric fence has instantly created a very nice walk for me and Liesl within the farm.  Any time I talk of safety on the blog, I try to re-iterate that I am very safe here.  However, I don't necessarily feel too comfortable walking very far outside the fence by myself.  Yes, I will do it.  Yes, Leon would agree I'm fine, I just don't make a practice of it.  However, there's a very nice little walk out the back of the property to a little retention pond for me and Liesl and I quite enjoy it!  

Another peek into life here...

Saturday, August 8, 2015

|| baby talk ||

So here's a total "mom blog" post.  

While in the States, I received several surprised comments that Liesl feeds herself and eats whole food (no baby food - yay!).  

I thought it might be interesting to a mom or two to share my limited, one-child experience.  

Obviously, I've got to post the whole disclaimer:  This post is not medically sound or medically documented.  This post is not intended to replace the advice of your pediatrician or doctor or medical provider.  This post is simply the experience, not advice, of one mom.  Whew!  Hopefully, we are in the clear now.  :)

I first heard about self-feeding (technically called baby-led weaning) through another Christian girl's blog.  It got my interest and made sense and I did a little research (aka googling) about the topic.  One of the articles mentioned that Europeans adopt this method of feeding their baby.

Liesl began with avocado as you can see in the picture above.  That was probably the second or third time she'd eaten avo.  Also, I did feed her mashed veg (butternut squash with green beans) for a bit, especially when I was in a hurry for her to finish eating.  

But after a while, I quite enjoyed Liesl being able to feed herself.  The main reason is that it kept her occupied.  About 11-ish, Liesl would start to get cranky but I still had school to finish with the girls.  So, I'd put her in the high chair and begin to feed her one thing at a time.  Peas.  Then butternut.  Then chicken  (Meat wasn't until 8/9 months).  Also, baby biscuits (Americans call them cookies).  She also has eaten a lot of watermelon 9 - 10 months.  And currently, bananas are her favorite thing.   She even points and says, "nana".  :)

A huge disclaimer:  it is (very, very) very, very messy.  If you are a working mom, it probably won't work for you.  There's often times that Liesl gets a bath after lunch.  And I also have the luxury of calling the maid to clean up if I'm too busy (or tired!) to do so myself.  Also, I spoon feed her porridge and any soft or runny foods (creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, etc..).  Having said that, here's just a few more observations.

Liesl hasn't choked, yet.  I haven't had to administer the Himelech maneuver on her.  

Another reason I'm big thumbs up for self-feeding is that it is whole, natural food with no preservatives or added sugar.  Now I'm not a crunchy mom.  Yes, Liesl has sugar but I try to limit it.  (Although, she had a marshmallow today...I even feel guilty typing that.)  But the idea of limiting her sugar through self-feeding really appeals to me.  

I also feel (once again, I'm NOT a doctor) that the bigger the food, the better.  It's better for her to rub a slice of an apple up and down on her gums than for me to dice it up in small pieces.  Also, I don't feed her grapes or hot dogs.  And for the longest while, I cut her bananas in sixths (yes, I'm a new mom - hahah!).  Today, she ate half a banana; then, I gave her the other half.  

Also, I don't leave her to eat by herself.  If she were to choke, I'm very near.  

Another downside of self-feeding is travelling.  It took me a bit to find my groove when we were first in the States.  We ate out a lot and it is messy.  But soon, I got the hang of it.  We also discovered cheese sticks in the States!  Liesl loved those!!  I limited her to one a day but I know she'd have more if I let her.  As a side note, I met a Brit on our flight who also does self-feeding.  

So there you go.  A huge mommy post.  Has anyone else have experience with their baby self-feeding?  Love it?  Hate it?  Too nervous to try?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

|| dailies no. 101 ||

Loadshedding.  I'm sure most of you have the same reaction as Liesl up there.  ^^ (huh?!?!)

Well, let me explain.  

Since there's been below average rainfall for the past three years, our dams are very low.  We use the water in our dams to generate power.  Since the biggest dam of all is at the lowest it's been in a while, there is not enough water to generate power for the country to last us until the rainy season.  And also, once the rainy season begins, it still takes the water time to flow into the big dams.  

Therefore, the power company has put us on this lovely little exercise called loadshedding.  The power is shut off every day on a rotating 5-hour schedule. But we are "lucky" because we live on the farm.  The farm is on a daily 5-hour outage.  The big city is on 8-10 hours per day outage.  Ouch.

Today, our schedule is 10 am - 3 pm.  I was able to get several loads of laundry done.  Power is out now and I will continue in just a few hours.  Thursday is our nicest day with the power being out from midnight to 5 am.  

We are also going to have to look into another generator and possibly some type of solar power.  Solar panels are an expensive option and there's also solar powered hot water tanks.   We only run the generator if the milking needs to be done or if the milk still isn't chilled.  

I know those of you reading from a first-world country can't imagine being without power for 5 hours a day but it really isn't that bad.  We prepare each day for it and work around the schedule.  I'm only dreading the hot season because then the fans can't be on for five hours each day.  Count on me to be in the pool during that time.  :)

Another peek into our life here...

Friday, July 31, 2015

|| home ||

*written in the skies on Tuesday night

Home.  We're winging our way home as I type this.  First leg of flights in progress.  Two more to go.  Looking at that cozy picture above, I can't wait to get home.  But tears well up as I think of the home I just left.  Here I am a little sappy for a moment which I try to avoid.

God put me into such a beautiful home of my birth.  Loving parents.  A lot of comforts.  Fun brothers.  A wonderful church family.  So very many happy memories.

It was so great to be back in the States for a full 5 weeks.  Time went by at such a nice pace.  I'm learning to savour the moments rather than wishing for the next event to begin.  I was so spoiled eating out, lots and lots of shopping, time with family, even some time with a few friends squeezed in now and again.

Our trip back has already begun with a few blessings and a few stories for the books (Hallellujah.   Gotta keep life interesting).

AND, I'm going to try to blog more.   There were a few requests for that.  And I guess I'd better since one of my friends thought I'd come back with "kinky hair and African clothes".  (big huge LOL there!)  So this first post is a feeble attempt to stay in touch more.  

Until next time, friends...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

|| the stiff, cold winter ||

[see...I wrapped Liesl up in this huge puffy blanket for our outing to the clinic to get her measles shot. I've had enough of "Hey. E-way..You.  You, must-E wrap the baby in thE blanket-e. She will catch thE flu-E.  Ma ma ma ma ma [shaking the head] must-E wrap thE baby.]

Now, with a title like that, you can imagine that it is about 32* here.  On the contrary, it is a "freezing" 52* tonight.  I have to laugh at how marriage and living here is changing me bit by bit.  

This is now my third winter.  The first winter, I was a newlywed.  "Astonished" is such a kind word for how I felt about that first winter.  What?!!  Get OUT of the shower and not stand on a heating vent.  Be cold IN MY HOUSE.  Be cold ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY?  My friends and family are frolicking on their green grass and catching fireflies and watching fireworks in their short-sleeve shirts.  Why Am I Cold?  

Last winter, I was pregnant and dealt with the cold much better.  More of a's cold.

This winter, I'm more like....cold....oh yeah!  It's chilly.  I get to wear boots!  I get to wear scarves!  I get to wear my puffy down.  But I can't decide if it's that I've actually adjusted to backward seasons or if it's mental.  You see, I leave in a little over a week for a holiday during the American summer!  Woohoo!!  Fireworks, fireflies, blueberries, strawberries, long summer days, windows open (my life here, too), farmers markets, baskets of flowers and bedded annuals everywheeeeeere!!!!!  Woohooooo!!!  

At any rate, I'm not nearly as bothered about the cold which is SO nice.  Life is starting to gather a new normal.  

But I assure you, the cold weather is felt so much more accutely here.  It is cold in the bones.  It is 24/7-camping-all-day-long cold.  No carpets.  [Stone floors.]  No forced heat blowing out of a vents.  [A tiny, little, tiny, little space heater.] 

Anyways, it is fun to poke fun at the cold here.  I'm such a wimp considering I'm from the Midwest.  :) 

Monday, June 1, 2015

|| Gracious ||

One of my favorite verses is,

A gracious woman retaineth honour....Proverbs 11:16

A while ago, I looked up the definition of gracious in Webster's 1828 Dictionary.

Here it is:

Godly, pleasing, acceptable,
Marked by kindness and courtesy,
Marked by tact and delicacy,
Merciful, commpassionate,
Characterized by charm and good taste,
Generosity of spirit,
And the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding.

Wow.  That is quite the lady.  The picture that draws in my mind is most certainly someone I want to be.  If there is one word I want to be known for in this life, it is GRACIOUS. I know I'm not nearly where I ought to be.  I lack graciousness often. 

A life under pressure causes the contents to spill over.  And my goodness, how the contents of my heart spill over the top.  Not only have I had to adjust to a new marriage in the past two years.  But also, a new culture, living with family on top of me, "in my space", :)... a new church, all of the raging emotions that spill out after childbirth, new, new, new, different things that absolutely smother me at times.  Yes, I've been in this "new" life for two years now.  And sometimes, I question will I ever get to the point where the new-ness of it all doesn't bother me.  I know the answer is, YES.

But here is where God's Living Word comes in.  Graciousness doesn't make exceptions for new situations.  God knows where I need to change.  He has put me here for a purpose.

Yesterday, I read in Proverbs 31, "Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come."  (verse 25) A GRACIOUS woman retaineth HONOUR. Strength and HONOUR are her clothing.  Honour is her clothing because she is gracious.

Maybe this word Gracious will resonate with you a bit more.  I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

|| a hike ||

Leon has told me of a hike that he's done several times. It is a huge flight of stairs up a hill with a cell tower at the top. I've wanted to do this hike for some time now and was finally invited to tag along with another family. 

It was a great workout (reminded me of Mt. Tom!!). 

The photos I got at first looked like this.....

...pretty but restricted by power lines and the like. Plus, we disturbed the habitation of about one thousand lady bugs. I know I live in Africa but I still am not acclimated to a hoard of flying ladybugs in my personal space.

So I went back down the stairs a few meters to sit in P & Q. That would be: peace and quiet. 

Then I snapped a few photos that looked like this:

Who said it isn't beautiful here?!?!?

It is gorgeous. When I look at the view, I am amazed at how undeveloped so much of the land is. 

I enjoyed the hike so much that I want to start taking my nieces there on a weekly hike. To drive to the place and back plus the hike is about an hour round trip. 

It was so nice to find a new place to explore and appreciate the beauty of this country.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

|| hi, blog ||

This picture is called: Look At Those Tired Eyes
Also: Zippers Are My Favorite

You know that Awww moment when you're a Mom. That " baby is sleeping so peacefully, I just want to cuddle her" MOMENT. Yes, I have those. 

Well, last night that moment was cured. Right before we went to bed, Liesl stirred. And sat up in her cot. Then pulled herself up to peer at us over the top. She knew she had us. We're such pushovers. 

So I picked her up for a little night-night cuddle. It was so precious. 

Then, about an hour later, after..... on off
...mosquito net on
....mosquito net off
....sleeping on the couch
...mama sleeping on the floor (just sleep, child, please sleep)

....we were FINALLY back in our beds. Exhausted. I have learned my lesson. 

Now before you think every night is like this, I can assure you, it is not.

This is our fancy bedtime Pinterest-worthy, best-post-I've-ever-read-gotta-pin-it-now routine. Are you ready??


Bath. (We play with the duckies.)
Bottle. (We guzzle.)
Bed. (We say our night-night verse which is Psalms 4:8, pray, rub belly and kisses, and light off.)

Honestly, though, motherhood is so fun. And oh well, if we mess up the routine every once in a while for a late night cuddle. I can't believe our baby is 8 months already. Soon, she won't want to cuddle. She won't peer over her cot, her big eyes imploring us to pick her up. Her dreams will be too interesting. She won't want to disturb them. She'll be a big girl. 

We are so blessed to have this child in our lives. I cannot tell you how often Leon and I look at each other in amazement that This Child Is Ours!!

God is so good to us. :)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

|| ba-ba-boots ||

I can think of ONE fashion reason to move to Africa:  Hunter Boots.  

I desperately wanted a pair back home but could not think of one justifiable reason.  As soon as that ring was on my finger, there was a reason to own a pair!

Now, we have had mild rainy seasons lately so they haven't been tried and proven very much.  My brother-in-law says typically the pattern is four good rainy seasons, three not-so-stellar rainy seasons.  This is our third ho-hum rainy season.  

However, it has been rainy lately.  Today, I walked to the office at the dairy in my everyday sandals and couldn't believe all of the mud.  "All of the mud" when you're wearing flip-flops is really not THAT MUCH mud if you're wearing any other type of decent shoe. :D

Today, I had an excuse to wear my boots. 

So if you need a legitimate excuse to buy a pair of these beloved boots, come visit us next rainy season!!