Hazy Days

the shadow of the life to come

Hazy Days

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Perfect Obedience at Forthefamily.org

I’m over at For The Family today with this article:

perfect obedience

We are sinful human beings.  We make a mess of things daily.  But, if we could lay before the Lord perfect obedience, what would it look like?

Would it be a bright cheery, “Yes, Lord!  But later?”

Or maybe it would be, “Sure, but only up until this point?”

How about, “Maybe, I could obey, but let’s think about this one a bit?”

Or a grumpy, “Fine!  But don’t think I’m happy about it!”

Is this the kind of obedience we’d want to teach our children?  Model to them?

Oh, God’s love covers over a multitude of sin – even the sin of disobedience!  But, is this an excuse for our disobedience?  Especially when we’ve heard the Lord loud and clear?

Some time ago, when my eldest was just a toddler, I learned a little five-fingered ditty to help her follow through with obeying instructions.  It has stuck with our family, and I frequently bring it out to remind the kids what immediate and wholehearted obedience looks like: …

read the rest at forthefamily.org

Of Hazy Days

Susie Leblond-7091Tonight, I listened to my husband read the final book of the Narnia Chronicles to the kids.  It’s the second time that he has read all 7 books to the kids, this time including the boys.  And each time it has been a wonderful experience for the kids.  Tonight, it got me thinking again about the reasons behind our blog name.

Since 2007, this little blog resided under the simple name of Hayes Happenings.  It was a place to record family fun, ponderings and snippets of this and that.  But, as it grew, so did my desire that it reflect an honest picture of our lives. It’s difficult to do that completely, given the medium and what motivates one post above another (less of the stinky attitudes and more of the exciting adventures, right?)  But, more than anything I want to reflect that this world is not our home.  And this life, with all the good and bad, will never be perfect.  There is so much good about our world and our lives, but they are just a mere reflection of the greatness that is to come. This is a message I long to reflect inside and out, in real life and here on the blog.   Somehow “Hayes Happenings” seemed a little bland and unconnected to that heart desire.  So, about 6 months ago (2013)  I changed it to Hazy Days.

My motivation was two-fold.

Firstly, and less importantly, I’m a sucker for things cute, corny and clever.  So I liked the idea of a play on our name: Hayes.

Secondly, and infinitely more importantly, I wanted the title to reflect the truth that the moments we record are but a murmur in time; and as beautiful as they are, they’re dull compared to eternity with Christ.  Our lives are fraught with mistakes and sin, blurring the beauty of life even more.   In the final pages of The Last Battle, CS Lewis describes it beautifully:

“It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different – deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.”


“When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of.  But that was not the real Narnia.  That had a beginning and an end.  It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan’s real world.  You need not mourn over Narnia, Lucy.  All of the old Narnia that mattered, all the dear creatures, have been drawn into the real Narnia through the Door.  And of course it is different; as different as a real thing is from a shadow or as waking life is from a dream ….Your father and mother and all of you are – – as you used to call it in the Shadow-Lands – – dead.  The term is over: the holidays have begun.  The dream is ended: this is the morning .” (The Last Battle)

While we live in these hazy days, we look forward to the new earth the Lord has prepared for us.  Our new home of which this life is just a shadow.


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We’re back, up and running!

If you’ve visited over the past week, you’ve probably noticed, or been a bit perplexed to notice, that this blog has been down.  That’s because I was hit with a rather nasty batch of malware on my site.  Long story short, since all my websites were down anyway, I figured it was time to move web hosts.

I am so glad that I did.

I was originally with Godaddy.com – a good web host provider with great prices, but their support was terrible.  And that was confirmed when I tried contacting them about my virus issues.  I had to wait 24 hours to receive a response; a response which turned out to be a standard computer generated response that didn’t answer my questions at all.

Enter Google Search.  It didn’t take me too long to realise that I really wanted to host with WPEngine, but just couldn’t afford them.  More searching showed that iPage was my next best offer.  They offer LiveChat support – which is equivalent to having my own tech guy in my pocket 24/7 to coach me through the move step by step.  They also offer great malware scans and back up support too.  I managed to lock in to all their benefits at the great price of $2.95/month for two years. And it’s been fantastic!  It’s been quite a move across with me making a few mistakes – but every time iPage tech support has helped me politely and successfully.  It’s been simply a brilliant experience.  So, now I bring you – hayesfamily.co.za/blog – free of malware and happy to be back up and running. Thank you iPage!

From reading stories to writing them…

Two weeks ago I finished writing my very first novel: a children’s book aimed at 8-12 year olds, and perhaps a bit beyond.  How did I come to this?  Well, the story begins with my love of writing from as early as a first grader playing with small print outs of single words, forming sentences and making up stories.  It matures with my love of books, reading stories, writing creative pieces and yet more playing with words.  But, that’s the very long story.   Here’s the shorter version….

Before becoming a home schooling momma of 4 kiddies, I was a high school history and English teacher and a youth leader in our church’s youth group. 

During my years of teaching, I learnt a few things, including:

  1. stories have incredible power to teach just about anything
  2. kids are brighter than they’re given credit for

In the late 90s, My husband and I were a part of a pioneering group of youth leaders started by my brother, our youth pastor.  On Friday nights, we held bible study.  No Friday night party games.  It was revolutionary for our time.  Parents rebelled.  Kids moved on.  But a large majority stayed.  They had fun.  They deepened friendships in small groups.  And they grew.  They were hungry for the Bible and so were we.  Growing up in Sunday school, I learned bible stories in isolation.  But now, for the first time, I was able to connect the dots.  For the first time, I understood God’s message throughout the Bible – Old Testament and New.  And for the first time, I began to understand terms like ‘sanctification’ and ‘justification’.  And so did the kids.

Fast forward a few years: my bible teaching switched from youth bible studies to young adults and then adults.  The school classroom dominated my first years of being a qualified teacher.  Years that were rich in amazing literature read aloud in class.  Nowadays the stories I read aloud are not to a class full of high school kids.  But the same delight, the same depth of learning, the same enjoyment reflects from the eyes of the four wriggly kids I get to call my own.  Thanks largely to our excellent curriculum, Sonlight, the kids and I have travelled through ancient Egypt, medieval England, the Americas, China and more.  Cuddled on our couch, we’ve learned number place values with a story about a house.  We’ve learned about weather systems and the human body, travelling on a Magic School Bus.  It was learning through literature.  Living books.  And we were hooked. 

reading on the couch

I was hooked.

Home schooling was supposed to be about the kids learning and me teaching.  But I was learning, even while I was teaching.  And the best method?  Stories.  Lots and lots of amazing stories.

Somewhere along the line, it all got me thinking.  I was teaching the kids bible stories, songs, and even a bit of theology, using excellent resources.  But, aside from our beloved Patricia St John books, I had yet to find compelling stories outside of the bible that effectively explored theology.  I wanted to have my kids’ love for the Word to grow by being in the Word and by reading about its core teachings and basic doctrines through excellent living stories.  But, where were these books?

By this stage, I was writing regularly here at on our blog.  It rekindled an old love – writing.  My thoughts?  Why not write the stories that I couldn’t find? 

The idea stewed for some years.  Whenever I revisited it, it grew.  Before long, a series had developed in my mind – about a home schooled family discovering fascinating history and grappling with theology while experiencing amazing adventures.   Home schooled, because there are so few books written about us strange creatures: it was an opportunity to give all types of education a fair rap and home schooling a little light.  Family, because books I grew up on usually had absent parents in body or heart: I wanted an opportunity to paint real families working together.  While the focus is on the kids and their discoveries, the parents are a positive influence.  History, because the best stories have already been written in the pages of history. Theology, because kids are smarter than we give them credit for. 

I wanted my kids to read these kind of books.  So, why not try my hand at creating them myself?  In my braver moments, I felt confident that I could do it.  In my saner moments, I was convinced it was but a pipe dream; a tall task that I could never fulfil.

But, the idea continued to take shape, until a first story filled my mind and spilled out onto my keyboard one wintery evening last year.  A few weeks’ work last year fanned the flames of an old passion.  But then life and self-doubt interfered.  Eventually, I picked it up again.  And, finished my first novel.

All 160-pages, 23 chapters and 1 epilogue worth.  Unpublished.  Un(officially)edited.  But complete.

simon bottle

Set in Cape Town, South Africa, The Joseph Project, as it is tentatively titled, is an adventure that brings a middle class white family, with four home schooled children, face-to-face with the atrocities of their apartheid past. The story begins on a stormy beach one winter’s morning when 12-year old Simon Ward discovers an old bottle in a tangled clump of seaweed. On a whim, he tucks it into his coat before heading home. But, his plans for his latest treasure are dashed when his beloved dog, Purdy, knocks him over in one over-excited bound, smashing his bottle to the ground. Simon’s dismay soon turns to excited intrigue, for in the ancient bottle is an envelope.  It contains a letter written 30 years prior by a 12-year old Cape Flats school boy as part of a multi-disciplinary school project.  The letter is brief and contains one question, “Who is God and does he care about me?”

The letter fascinates the Ward family, so they embark on an exciting and revealing journey of discovery. Through clues left in the letter, the children, together with their mother, find themselves revisiting their country’s apartheid past as they search for their mystery letter-writer.

So far a few friends and family have read / are reading the story with (so far!) positive feedback.  I plan to read it to our Lunch Bunch kids.  And, I hope to get it published.  In fact, I was really excited to learn, soon after I first started praying about publishing it, about the Re:Write conference contest – a $15k advance in royalties and a book contract with Tyndale to the winner.  I was all set to enter with a completed proposal and everything, when the organisers changed the parameters to be non-fiction only.  I was disappointed.  Very disappointed  But, at the same time, intrigued.  Where was God taking this?  Because, my ultimate prayer is that while I do want this book published, I don’t want it to supersede my role as wife, mom and primary home schooling parent.

So, now I wait.  The Fedd Agency, who are affiliated with the Re:Write conference, have offered to read all the fiction proposals and offer advice or even take on a worthwhile project as an agent.  There are a few other avenues I could pursue.  My dream is that Zondervan Kids will pick it up!  But I know too little about the publishing world to really know what’s best and what’s wise.  So, even while I read up on it all, and probe another avenue here and there, I’m still trusting in His wisdom.  And praying.  Please pray with me. 

updated: a sneak peak of chapter one in the next post: chapter one.

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