Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

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Sam is 9!

Nine! It’s here! Yet, when I look back over Sam’s birthday posts of the years past, it seems that our boy has barely changed. Yes, he has grown a little taller, but essentially he seems the same as ever. Still loving Lego. Still loving drama. Still loving hours playing outside. Still loving practical jokes, making up riddles and presenting me with a new Lego creation each and every morning, all while talking a hind leg off a donkey.


Yet, as is expected with another year to mature, the chatter involves deeper questions and thoughts. In many ways this has been very positive. In others, not so much.

Somewhere along the line this year, this little man has taken upon himself to view life through a bit of a pessimistic lense. It’s puzzled and frustrated us often when, after a great day full of fun, his summary assessment is, “it wasn’t fun, because …”  Usually the “because” is a trivial upset that lasted mere moments – hardly anything to overshadow the entire day of fun and games. Eeyore much? In talking to him about this way of thinking, it becomes clear that it’s not really his desire to focus on the negative, but it seems to crop up more regularly than we would like for him.  My prayer is that it’s just a imitation of one of his buddies who also does this, or perhaps just a passing phase.  So, we pray… and, we chat a lot. His little heart, when thinking of these things more closely, shows a strong desire for positive gratitude.

And we do see this desire realised more often than he sees himself.  I love his sweet love notes to me – sometimes hidden in the mail box, many times secreted next to my bedside. I love his prayers for his dad at the dinner table and late at night, especially when Dad is away on business. I love how excited he gets about small things and especially when he discovers new things. His budding interest in electronics has him spending hours creating electronic circuits with Snap Circuit and his fascination with all things Minecraft has him building virtual Lego almost as much as he does when handling the real thing. I love his enjoyment of people. Developing new friendships this year has been a rewarding experience. Yet, his interest in people extends beyond his peers and for this I am truly grateful. I love how he shows interest in older people and younger ones too. This year, his piano teacher and our friend, Laura, has brought her two little girls along during piano lesson time. Our boys can’t wait to spend time with the girls, even going as far as to argue over who gets to hold baby Kaiya first! His enthusiasm for these things puts all the pessimism to rest.

For this I am grateful. But more so, I am grateful for his ability to express his feelings. This year, Sam has felt quite bothered about having discovered some swear words. Having them ricochet through his head against his will has had him beg me to pray night after night that he won’t think about them. When his friendships overwhelm him, he will talk through them with me. Sometimes, I discover that the little thing that ruined an otherwise perfect afternoon was little in event but big in heartache.

I wish I can say that I am always the wise mom, generous with her time, but so often the burdens of his heart pour out just before bedtime when I’m aching to shake off some of the responsibilities of being mom. Writing this reminds me once again that while the days are long, the years are short … I don’t want overwhelming regrets. So, this 10th year my prayer is that I will linger longer; listen harder and love deeper.

And, while I pray that the Lord works in me, I pray too that He continues to work in my little man – that he will grow to be a man after God’s own heart; that he will yearn to serve Jesus with all his heart and mind and that he will choose gratitude even when the world offers a dismal picture.

But, for today, this 9th birthday, I mostly want to thank the Lord for this special boy – all his sensitivity, his enthusiasms, his joys and his worries, his love and his struggles – all that makes our Sam our special big boy whom we love so dearly.

Happy Birthday, Sam!

Kiera is 13!

With every birthday that passes, I feel a sense of awe at the passage of time and the effect it has on the growth of my family, our relationships and the world around us.  But this birthday has taken that to a new level. In preparation for this special birthday – the birth of a teenager – I’ve spent a fair bit of time looking back over photos of Kiera’s past 13 years.  Each and every one has me catching my breath. They’re captured moments that I remember with such clarity that it is as if I am in them still. How can it be that it’s not just minutes ago, but years? Years and years?  And how will I feel in another 13 years? Or 30?  These memories have stirred up such mixed emotions – joyful memories emerged in a pool of sadness that I cannot revisit those moments in actuality, ever. And then, there’s that number … 13.  In one sense it’s just another year in the life of a person. But, in another, it symbolises a shift in the journey of life. Which is why this year we’ve chosen to do a few things to highlight this time – starting with a special dinner with just Mom, Dad and Kiera, and a gift of a very special ring and some letters. But more on that in another post.

For this post, I want to focus on Kiera.

Like past posts, we like to record the highlights of the year – the fun times, the achievements, the joys, the celebrations. And this year has been full of them…  Writing numerous stories, plays, screenplays and poems. Reading up a storm. Top marks for drama exams. High honours in her drama eisteddfod.  Joining her sister’s dancing classes and thriving after just a few lessons. Making the Western Cape team for gymnastics for the fourth year running. Writing and publishing more short stories for Nali’bali. Getting the lead role in her drama studio’s year end play. Fulfilling her dream of being on the Artscape stage by performing a musical number with her best friend at the Artscape Arena for the Schools’ Arts festival and been selected out of 90 acts to be one of the 12 finalists to perform in the Gala event for the mayor of our city and other dignitaries.  They’re exciting highlights in her life, for sure.  But most celebrated, for me, are the heart moments that reflect a child who is choosing to think along the lines of What Would Jesus Do?


This has been a watershed year in many ways. There have been so many little and large upheavals in Kiera’s life – disappointments mixed in with great joys, yet every single time, I’ve watched a young person grapple with adult-sized emotions and reasoning and come out the other end with an attitude of selflessness, kindness, gratitude and humility. Of course, she is by no means perfect, as is the case with us all. There’s hardheadedness, boisterousness, and outspokenness that can trip her up, yet, while she grapples with these personality traits that often don’t lend themselves to the attitudes just mentioned, I stand in awe at the work the Holy Spirit is doing in her life. Recently, as part of helping her sort through a friendship issue, she gave me her diary to read. A diary of a 12-year-old girl. Ever read one of those? Remember them? I have and I do. Because, it wasn’t that long ago that I was writing my own diary entries at the age of 12. They were all boys, friends, and good doses of selfishness and self-absorption on my part. Yet, in the pages of Kiera’s diary, I saw honest struggles penned as her heart and mind dealt with the bigger picture. Just about every moment of hurt described ended with serious honest self-reflection and a determination to live with grace, forgiveness, and humility.  I found myself humbled and discipled by my daughter’s words, as I reflected on my own sinful heart over the matter.


There have been many moments like these in the past year, where her actions have stood as an example to me and those around her.  There have been the expected disappointments, like not being good enough to sing solo for the church, handled with grace and joy for her friend who was awarded the solo.  And then there have been the unexpected disappointments, like the time the low results for her gymnastics floor routine had her coach furious with the decision and actively questioning the judge about the huge disparity in results. Even though it cost her a podium spot, and even though she had to bite back tears of disappointment, she chose to honour the judge with her words: “when all’s said and done, it’s the judge’s decision and it’s not the end of the world. I had fun and enjoyed being with Dad on the trip there and back.”  Again, an attitude I wish I could wear as easily.

And then there have been the joyful moments.  When she and a friend got to perform a musical theatre number at the Artscape last week, her joy and excitement bubbled over as she thanked the staff, the stagehands and just about everyone else involved.  And, not too long ago, she got a lead role in her drama studio’s 2015 year-end performance of The Silver Chair. Her joy was tangible, even across the ocean in Australia where I happened to be when it was all announced. Yet, within seconds of hearing her joy, I also heard her deep and great concern for her best friend who had also coveted the role and who would be very disappointed. Her tears that week were for her friend’s feelings. My tears at that age?  They would’ve been simply because I couldn’t enjoy my “win” to the full extent.

Yes, she has taught us much. And continues to do so. And I am grateful.  Grateful that lessons I’ve only learned (and am learning) later in life, she is learning now. Grateful that in the tough times, she doesn’t stagnate in her disappointment or in self-pity, but climbs out of muck and chooses to be positive. Grateful that she is honest and realistic about her own personal failings, but at the same time not satisfied with settling with the traits she views as unhelpful. And grateful that I get to see and be a part of the process. Just this past weekend, I saw her actively at work on an area where she has struggled in the past.  Being the natural (boisterous, yes) leader that she is, it’s easy to take charge. But during team games at her birthday party, I watched her lead with such patience and inclusion, making sure that each member got to contribute and feel a part of the team.  They did not win, but she was beaming with the enjoyment of the experience.  And I was beaming that she managed to reign in the competitive spirit enough to allow the others to participate equally in the game.


Not too long ago, Kiera pegged herself as an optimistic realist, and I think she’s pretty much spot on. She shoots for the top, even if she does not have expectations of reaching it.  I reckon we’re similar in that way.  It’s a useful attribute to have and considering all the failings I struggle with, I am grateful this is not one of them… and I’m grateful that I could pass on (at least something in the mix of outspoken and boisterous character traits) that is useful and good! It’s helped her prepare for potential disappointments, and it’s given her a healthy dose of realism when unexpected joy comes her way.

But most of all, it’s the work of the Lord Jesus in her life that has shaped her.  It’s that which matters most. And it’s that for which I am most grateful. I have oft said, here and elsewhere, that my prayer as a parent is that the Lord will bring our children to love and serve Him because of and despite of our parenting.  “Despite” because I know that we fail every single day and ultimately it is not our parenting that saves a child, but the choice of the Lord God Himself.  And “because” so that I will be reminded to honour God by choosing to raise our children in His ways, despite the fact that, while we shoot for doing the best job, we will fail time and again. Another prayer I’ve prayed is to be reminded in those tough parenting moments that it’s less about changing the child’s behaviour in the moment and more about a sanctifying opportunity for myself!  In other words, an opportunity for me to practise being godly.  But, the prayer I’ve never really thought to include, with any kind of regularity, has been the one that stands out the most: that the Lord would use our children to teach us and shape us as He raises them to love and honour Him. In the last 13 years of being a parent, I believe that prayer has been the one answered more often than not.  And I suspect it will be the one to be answered most often for a good many more years to come.  But, always, always, I will continue to pray that Jesus will be her #1 and that the verse we’ve chosen for her this 13th birthday will be one close to her heart for now and ever:

Romans 12: 1- 2 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

And, finally, to Kiera, by the time you are reading this, you will have received your special letters from Dad and I, and the ring that we hope will be as special to you as it is to us. You will know that this blog entry, and all the entries before, reflect our hearts and our joy in you and our gratitude to God for giving you to us. As we have said before and say again now, we love you so very much and we are committed to walking this journey with you, as your parents and family-in-Christ, as you stride towards independence and responsibility as the adult you are becoming. Let’s keep Jesus our number 1 and our relationships honest, open and full in Him. Love you!

Love Mom and Dad


(and for memories’ sake – click here for a photo-only post on Kiera: ages 0 through to 13)

Kiera from 0-13



p19 p20 p21

p22 p23 p24 p25 p26 p27


Katie is 11!

katiecollage3 I don’t even know how to begin this post. It’s only been a year since I last wrote about my sweet Katie, but in one year I’ve seen such incredible growth. Last year she was 10 and a kid. This year she’s 11 and glimpses of the woman she is becoming flickers into life with surprising regularity. And every time it does, I’m totally overwhelmed with unexpected emotion.

It’s when I see her in the kitchen, ably handling pots and pans like someone twice her age. It’s when I see her writing and reading with levels of enthusiasm I’ve never even been able to coax out of her for the first 10 years of her life. It’s the sudden leap into confidence that I see in her singing, dancing, writing, reading, drawing, designing, living and loving.  It’s when she prays and asks God to help her in a certain area of her life. It’s when she talks through her thought processes with me and suddenly I see a child who recognises the complexity of her own emotions, can articulate them rationally and sees the futility of childish ways, choosing to aim for mature responses instead. Each time, I find myself catching my breath – these holographic moments where the young girl before my eyes reflects a beautiful woman I will one day meet in her entirety.

katiecollage2Yet, even then, the young girl, Katie, is ever present – dancing and singing around the kitchen, spending hours watching make up tutorials and cooking shows, and dreaming up innovations of all kinds. Playing with her siblings and friends, tearing up the garden sword-fighting and karate-chopping, dressing up and down, singing aplenty and enjoying life with a vitality that is often most obvious in the young. And then there’s that tussle between girl and teenager – the confidence that comes with age and self-control crashes head on with the ups and downs of hormones. But, despite that, despite the craziness that emotional rollercoasters send her on, there is an unexpected rationality that shines through. The “I feel like this. It’s awful. I hate feeling all over the place like this. I know that I’m overreacting. I’m sorry that I’m freaking out and making it hard on everyone else. Please help me.” When did that happen? When did my tantrumming toddler turn into this tween who struggles just as much now as she did then, but today articulates with sense?

katiecollage1It’s been so rewarding to watch this sweet child of mine grow into who she is becoming. But mostly, it’s been so rewarding being with who she is in the moment. The sunny, carefree, resilient, forgiving, bouncy, loving, warm, beautiful, compassionate girl who lives to love and loves to live. Thank you, Lord, for our precious girl. Thank you for her love. And thank you for your love in blessing us with the gift of children – today, especially, our newly-minted 11-year-old girl, Katie.

katiecollage4And to our precious, precious Katie – Happy 11th Birthday! I hope it’s a wonderful, beautiful stunning birthday marked by happy memories and a deep love for Jesus!


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