Kindness goes a long way…

I’m taking a break from all the craziness surrounding writing a book and recording a DVD. Who knew it’s so difficult to have 12 good-hair Tuesdays in a row!

So today I’m just taking a breather to reminisce and pay some tribute to a  very special someone in my life. The one in the humble spotlight of my little blog is my second son Terrance. He just graduated from high school last week, and I can hardly believe it! I know, I know… it’s a total lame “mom-cliche” but I’m honestly never quite prepared for the roller coaster ride that me and my four kiddos are on.

I love the name Terrance. Not only because it’s my husband’s middle name (and he’s a pretty cool guy) but also because of it’s meaning: Tender hearted. It’s such a sweet  meaning for such a strong name, and that is exactly what I can say about my Terrance. Never have you found a more tender hearted guy, coupled with a tenacious strong spirit.

He is always fighting for the underdog, finding something good to say about the least popular person, and of course, defending his Dad in arguments where the guy is obviously unfairly matched (with me that is:). In the thirteen years that we’ve been in the US we were only able to go back to visit family and friends in South Africa once, now seven years ago. It was (of course) Terrance who cried on our plane ride back about every single person and animal that we had to say good-bye to. It just melts my heart to see him treat all people (especially the most vulnerable human beings among us) with such tender care and compassion.

I know when he reads this he will be embarrassed and accuse me of making him out to be a total wimp, but that would be the furthest thing from the truth.  God has placed in this tender hearted young man a spirit of steel. He knows what He wants and where he wants to go. He took up the guitar only a  few years ago, and started practicing from dusk till dawn. He simply didn’t stop until it became a vessel of both corporate and personal worship in his life.  I’m so excited to see where God will be taking him…

What I see in Terrance is what I desire for myself. It’s something very attainable, and something I know he allows to grow in Him by abiding in God’s presence:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control
(Galatians 5:21-23)

This Mom is so very proud and so very grateful to God for undeserved blessings…

This mom is not ready to let go…

He could always make my heart melt with his chocolate brown eyes. Even at age three he was a little grown-up with a huge vocabulary. People always smiled at the eloquent way the little guy spoke Afrikaans (our first language), and he wrote his first poem before he could spell. 

My sweet little boy, Jean, is now a man of 21  who is ready to spread his wings and fly. He graduated from college, found a great job, and is looking for his own place to stay.

It’s all so wonderful! Just one problem: I’m not ready…

It’s not that I don’t want him to enjoy every minute of his new and exiting journey – because I do! It’s not that I’m not grateful – because I am so grateful for the positive direction his life is taking. It’s simply a matter of me not being ready to let go…

Nothing really prepares us for this, does it?

I’m not ready for his little red car to no longer be parked outside my window. I’m not ready to stop falling over his shoes in the hallway. I still want to see him snuggle with his little sister Christie, huddle over a piece of artwork with Jason, and I still want to lay in bed and hear him laugh with Terrance into the early morning hours. I’m not ready to let go of the long and rich conversation we have about anything from politics to pumpkin. I’m so not ready to cook authentic South African food without my oldest chopping, stirring, and adding things to age old recipes.

I really don’t want to be a mother who keeps controlling until she’s resented, but I also don’t want him to think that I stopped caring. Because the truth is that I lay awake wondering, worrying, and praying that God will keep him safe, give him wisdom, help him choose wisely, and especially that our Father will always keep him close…

A dear friend reminded me recently that when separation is most difficult for me, it is probably most crucial for his future.

It’s still hard but I’m learning slowly that separating from my young adult or teenager is a balancing act between CONTROL and FREEDOM

By slowly letting go (even if it’s super difficult for me) I am…

  • Equipping him to face the world out there while I’m still close enough to help
  • Letting him find out who he is and what he truly likes
  • Letting him develop his own relationship with God
  • Keeping my door open if he wants to talk or ask for advice in the future
  • Forging and preserving a new relationship with him that will go the distance

I wrote this poem a while ago when the “letting-go” process started. I believe there is only one way for us moms to endure these deep emotions: Hiding under the everlasting wing of the One who sees us. Jean is my oldest, so I still have to let go THREE MORE TIMES – Lord have mercy on this poor mama! For now I’ll pretend I have plenty of time and enjoy the sweeties I still have close to home.

 

He sees me…


invisible I am
in the kitchen
doing the laundry
picking up their shoes


watching, always watching
for a smile, a tear, a frown
waiting, always waiting
for the right time to talk


and I hurt, because they go
and I stay
and I cry, because they reach for tomorrow
and I still sit quietly with yesterday in my hand…


I long for the revealing of their greatness
I pray for their dreams to come true
every day they strive, hurt, laugh, dream, cry, love
and invisible I watch and I hold my breath


they don’t know it
they don’t see me
and yet
, He sees me…

and He smiles…


a mom

“Pinning Jello to the Wall!”

IMGP1260_250x188Sometimes kind people compliment me on my teenage/young adult sons, and for a brief moment I can’t help but wonder if I might have done something right… and then reality sets in…

Today was one of those “reality-days”.  I had absolutely no patience to home school my 10 year old, and trying to potty train my 3 year old was, like someone else put it, “trying to pin jello to the wall”

I just couldn’t do it, I gave up…for today at least…

Back in the “old country” I would have been branded an incompetent mother by now, I’m sure. All kids get potty trained at age 2, and no 3 year old still has a pacifier (called a dummy in South Africa). Yet, here I am, the mother who supposedly got everything right in her twenties, and I have to hang my head in shame! My little girl (who should have been so much easier than her three brothers) is still very far from potty trained, and lo and behold, she still desperately wants her pacifier at night.

It’s not that I don’t have a plan. I’m planning to succeed every day, but seriously, on the eve of 40, I simply lack the enthusiasm and the strength many days!

However, I honestly think it’s a good thing that I’m stripped from all my pride in the area of motherhood. It made me look again, from a different point of view, at mothers around me. I came to realize that every Mom I see around me is in fact a GREAT MOM! We love our kids and we try our best, and even those of us who don’t do such a good job, never intended for it to go so wrong. We have issues, jobs, relationship difficulties, financial crisis and health problems. Earth shattering things such as death and divorce happen to some of us, and still…we do our best for those little ones (and bigger ones) in our lives. All the MOMS I speak to desire deeply to be a good mother and to give their kids everything they need and want, in spite of their inability to always do so.

So here is to you, my friend and fellow mom, who are trying to “pin jello to the wall” this very day: You are an amazing extension of God’s love on this earth.

Forget about being the perfect mom, she does not exist. There’s only one thing you and I need to get right: Plug in with God daily so that His healing power, His wisdom, His love, and His patience can shine through us.

Love you girls!

Heleen

A Letter to my Little Girl

A friend, Sandy,  had a great idea for a bunch of us “bloggers” to write about proper body image and Godly motivation for fitness. Thanks Sandy!
She was going to write a letter to her daughter and I so wanted to do the same for Christie. Maybe you want to join in and write your own post or letter to your daughter or grand daughter.

Please go check out this amazing video about this topic on Sarah’s blog at All pain-No gain. It had me in tears!

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My sweet little Christie girl

You’re only three years old but I so want to write you this letter in the hope that you will one day read it.

Being a Mom to you and your three amazing brothers is truly the greatest joy in all my life!

I can still not believe that I now also have a little girl! I so want to protect you from everything. When I see you sleep with your little hand tucked under a rosy cheek and your brown curls spread all over your pink Dora pillow, I ache with love for you.

I know that I won’t be able to protect you from all the lies and bad things in this world, but I hope to teach you a few truths along the way that will help.

There is one thing I’ve told your brothers countless times, and I hope to tell you many times too through out your life: Nothing in life compares with loving God.
Seriously, whether things are going great in your life or you are going through a really difficult season, loving God is all that truly matters and truly lasts!

My sweet baby girl, as a woman you have many challenges and joys ahead of you:IMGP0760_141x188

One day you might find yourself wondering why you have brown hair, green eyes and a certain body shape. One day you might look around you and realize that you are different from others. Right now you don’t even notice it, but one day you might recognize different skin color, body shapes, hair texture, and find “flaws” in yourself as you start to compare yourself with those around you.

When that day comes I want you to know that you are standing before a very important choice: Will you believe God’s truth about you or will you settle for the enemy’s lies?

I am begging you, my sweet darling girl, to believe the truth!

THE TRUTH IS:

There will never be anyone like you, EVER AGAIN, you are amazing and totally unique in every way!

You were given your set of features; hair color, body shape, eye color and facial features BY GOD, FOR A SPECIFIC  REASON AND PURPOSE!

Your bone structure and genetic makeup will determine your perfect weight, and being skinny has NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING BEAUTIFUL AND HEALTHY!

Obsessing about weight can make you weigh less or more than what God has intended for you, and it will steal your peace. But staying close to Him,  surrendering your way of eating to Him, and taking good care of your body will bring joy and peace to your life.

God made you to move girl! So find active things that you love and that you truly enjoy. Be yourself!

Take good care of your body, you will only get one in this lifetime. Feed it healthy food : Enjoy all the great flavors and colors of food that God created. Drink lots of water, rest enough, and LAUGH OUT LOUD AT LEAST ONCE A DAY!

Don’t waste time to try and please other people. There is one smile over your life that is truly important: The smile of God

Most of all: Know that God can truly satisfy you in a way that no relationship, no meal, no object and no human love ever can. So CHASE HARD AFTER GOD ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE!!

I pray that you will learn the truth about yourself early in your precious life, much earlier than your Mom did:)

HOWEVER, DON’T TRY AND DO ANY OF THE ABOVE PERFECTLY. NOBODY IS PERFECT AND IF YOU MESS IT ALL UP THEN GOD’S LOVE WILL COVER THAT TOO.

IMGP0784_225x300In the end we don’t have to do one thing to make Him love us more, His love for you, my little princess is EVERLASTING and CAN NEVER FAIL.

You are His princess, perfect, created exactly in the way you should be…

I have no words to even begin to tell you how much I love you… SO MUCH!

Your Mamma
xoxo

Your words can change a Life!

IMGP0766_250x188I can not my believe my little girl turned 3 last week! Her brother will be 10 this week, and I can still clearly remember when he was only 3 with the little chubby arms and legs! I attached a picture of the two little rascals:)

While icing some pink cupcakes on Christie’s birthday, I was again reminded of how far God has brought me. Here I was planning her party with, yes cake, but also hummus, wheat thins, carrots, celery and home made pizza (with healthy toppings)

Don’t think for one minute that I’m priding myself in all of this! I still have too many parties from my past that haunts me. I am seriously trying to do a better job with my two younger children, but I’m afraid their brothers have had a total different life. They observed the roller coaster ride of my eating disorder for a big part of their lives. Fortunately they don’t have any visible signs of food issues, but I’m always praying and talking to them about it.

I still have to stand against the enemy’s voice of accusation some days . He likes to tell me that I have failed when it comes to my older children, and that never mind how I’ve changed I will never make up for the past. The truth: There is no more condemnation for me (or you)! God loves my kids and He will use even my brokenness and the scars it might have left in their lives for His glory. I will keep praying and believing for that…

Now, I totally got off track here, but maybe some of you amazing mothers out there needed to be reminded of this. What I really wanted to get to was and incident that happened a few weeks back in the nursery, and that I thought of today while battling with some “after-birthday-tantrums”…

A few weeks back I was working in the nursery with a very adequate young mother. She has an amazing ability to just quiet the little 2 year olds down. They actually come and sit all around her and listen to her in amazement. I was amazed too. I also teach in that class once a month, and I’m telling you, I come away every time sweating and utterly exhausted.

Somehow I just can’t get them to calm down, at least not for more than two minutes. I bring in puppet shows and all kinds of gimmicks, but they stay restless and keep running around. When I finally round-up the little cuties, they don’t look interested in what I have to say at all, and sure enough minutes later they are running off to bigger and better things.

I was staring at this young mother in astonishment. She has only one child! I am supposed to be the expert after raising 4 munchkins. She was just sitting down with a Bible story book and all thirteen two-year-olds were hanging on her every word! I felt, to say the least, inadequate and inferior.

I caught myself glaring at the poor young mother, not on purpose, but due to all the puzzling thoughts in my mind. At this point the Holy Spirit was kind enough to shake me out of my pity-party, and I just blurted it out “You are simply wonderful with these kids. I can not believe how you do it. They are NEVER this good for me. Seriously, I can learn so much from you!”

I totally meant it, and she was so truly grateful for my words of encouragement that I could not believe that I didn’t tell her before. Now, I am in no way indicating that my words changed her life, but I know I made her smile!

Do you need some words of encouragement in your life today? Actually we all need it desperately. Life is hard and sometimes our gifts and hard work go unnoticed by others. Sometimes it’s due to the fact that they are so occupied with their own lives, and other times they might feel inferior or even envious (as I did for a few minutes)

Whatever you’re feeling next time you see somebody do something amazing, especially if it’s for the glory of God, tell them! Keep telling as many people as you can and sow some of the love and light of God in other peoples lives.

Yes, negative words can cut deep and hurt for a long time, but encouraging words are like balm on our broken hearts, guarding us from the harsh winters of life. Go ahead, give someone a compliment, and put a smile on their face. The best part, it will bless you too, and I can bet you that your heavenly Father will be smiling as well.

And then maybe, one day, when you least expect it… at sweet word of encouragement will come your way…

Actually you’re already doing it. By reading this post you are blessing and honoring me and bringing joy to my heart:) Thanks for tuning in to my blog, I am so blessed…

Love, Heleen

The Love of a Mom…

I am so fortunate to still have my Mom in my life. Yesterday, on Mother’s day my Mom visited and as we sat down for brunch, made by the men (well part of it at least), she looked at me and started showering me with praise. She commented on my life, my website, my hair, and my looks (jeans and t-shirt:) among other things.

I pretended to be embarrassed for company’s sake, but I was really basking in the warmth of true acceptance and encouragement. We all need that. I see how my children yearn for those words of praise and blessing. Life hits us hard, and at times it robs us of all our confidence and ability to see ourselves through God’s eyes, and that is where mothers come in…

I know you’ve heard many versions of this before but, like my fellow authors, I am convinced that God created mothers to be His helpers on this earth in a special kind of way. Of course a mother is biased when she tells the world that her child is the smartest, most beautiful or most talented kid on the planet, but it’s okay! Every child deserves to be the best somewhere and sometimes. In fact every child deserves the unconditional love of a mother.

My mom reminded me of that yesterday with her loving example. She reminded me that it’s okay to brag with your kids every now and then, especially to their grandma and especially when the particular child is present. It makes them grow just a little bit taller, smile a little bit wider and put a bounce in their step when they walk away with a “Oh stop Mom!” I have been loved, hugged, encouraged and praised by my Mom throughout my life. Sure there were times when we hurt each other, fought, cried, and had to work through things, but mostly there was a lot of love, and it kept me going all these years.

I know for sure that I saddled my kids with their own issues, whether I meant to or not. However, I hope that the love I showed them will weigh more. I pray that it will also be enough to take them the distance as it did in my life.

I am so reminded today of orphans and the incredible hearts of women who open up their homes for these precious children so they too can experience the love, hugs and praise of a Mom. You are the Mighty Moms among us. May God bless you and may His face shine especially upon you!

My Little Girl ripped up my Bible!

I guess things like these are inevitable when you have little kids. I recently paged through a Beth Moore study that I’ve done about 8 years ago and found pen scribbles all over the pages. This was done by the cutest little baby boy, who is now 9 years old. But this time it was my Bible! For crying out loud, is nothing sacred anymore?

I didn’t actually catch the little lady red handed. No she is quite the sneaky one. She loves to play on my bed, and always keeps herself occupied with some of my old jewelry that I keep in reach of her little hands for her enjoyment (and mine of course, I’ve had three boys before her remember:) So she went upstairs and I was calling her to hear what she was up to. “I play on Mommy’s bed” put me at ease and I didn’t check on her again until she came down after a few minutes. There was no sign of the big boo-boo Mommy’s Bible just suffered, she was just her sweet adorable self.

It’s only last night, after I tucked her in and kissed her rosy cheeks that I discovered the evidence. I picked up a towel that was laying on my bed and out fell a bunch of crumpled up pieces of paper. At first I had no idea what it was, it was thin paper, unlike the paper the kids use. Upon closer investigation the word “Genesis” jumped out at me. I was so shocked! I reached for my Bible where it laid innocently on my nightstand, and sure enough, pages ripped out and toddler art all over the book of Genesis.

Now I know I have to count my blessing: It could have been my whole Bible, but I was still sad. Amazing though how God will use just about anything to talk to us, it still blows my mind! There I was, crying over the state of my beloved Bible, when He simply said “I am so glad that you love my Word enough to cry over it”
My heart leaped and memory washed over me of an amazing time in my life, about nine years ago, when I fell head over heals in love with the Savior of my soul. For the first time in my life I actually wanted to read the Bible. I didn’t feel that I had to or I will go straight to hell anymore. It didn’t feel like a chore anymore. I didn’t feel guilty anymore about not getting “time in the Word” ticked of my list of things to do. No, I wanted to. I yearned for the Word of God when I didn’t read it for a while and when I finally got to read it I would press it to my heart and thank Him so much for His Word.

Let me assure you that I am not the lucky one. God wants all of us to feel that way about Him and His Word. Legalism has put God in a box and made fellowship with Him feel like a duty rather than a joy! You can also fall in love with God in a way that you never dreamed of. I found that loving Him was the true reason behind my freedom and the only way I still stay free from Food Addiction.

In Week 2 of my 12 Week Online Program for women struggling with food I talk about how all of this happened in my life and how you too can have an intimate love relationship with God. Nobody ever gave up an idol because someone forced them to do so, but we freely give it up if we find a greater love that can fill all of our deepest desires. Think about it…

As for my little girl… I showed her my Bible the next morning and explained that it was not a nice thing to do and that it made me sad. She wrapped two chubby arms around my neck and said “Oh, I’m sorry Mommy!”
You know it… all is forgiven and forgotten… who can resist a little face like that…

Kids and Worries

Face it, the two go together like fish and chips, or peanut butter and jelly (in America). If you have kids, you have had some worries.

I have heard it being said that we waste half of our lives worrying about things that never happen. This could easily be true for me, especially when it comes to my kids. Today I was pondering on this worry-pattern that I have going. I saw my 9 year old laying on the couch, reading a book. This warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face, because for the last 3 years, since I started teaching him to read, I have been worried: Will he ever be able to read fluently? Will he ever love reading? Will he ever read a whole book on his own?

This is not the first time I went through this. I have four kid, and for crying out loud, you think that I would have learned something by now. I remember distinctly being very worried about my eldest son when we moved to Oregon about five years ago: Would he forever be scarred by this move? Will he ever make close friends again? Is this going to ruin him? Well, of course he’s not ruined. In fact he has more friends than ever, loves God and is a thriving 19 year old.

I remember pushing the kids to get involved in music: What if they could have been famous musicians and I just didn’t push them enough? What if I ruined their future because I couldn’t afford music lessons? Well, lo and behold, my middle son just one day picked up the guitar and started teaching himself to play. He is now on a worship team and loves to play without any help or motivation from Mom.

 

So, I should stop, right. No such luck! I have a two year old and I am already worried that she will never get potty trained, never stay in the church nursery without crying about Mom, and never learn to count to ten without leaving out 4 and 8.

 

Oh well… fortunately God made mothers, so I know he gets us. However, he does remind me quite frequently to cast my cares on Him. And when my anxiety levels climb too high, he calls me into his presence so that I can make all my needs known to him through prayer, petition and thanksgiving. Then, of course, peace follows as I am reminded that they are after all God’s children first, and I can trust him to take good care of them. I am also reminded that prayer is the most powerful tool God has given me as a parent. Worry doesn’t accomplish anything, but bringing my precious kids to the throne of God has always made all the difference in the world…

My son’s offering

IMG_0443Today my 9 year old son did something that made me so happy.

I guess he was thinking about God for a few days, because he’s been asking questions about the rapture and he told me out of the blue that he really likes God. Now make no mistake, he has his moments, so little tokens like this makes me a very proud and happy mommy indeed.
He made a tiny basket and attached it to a helium balloon that we had floating around after a New Year’s Eve Party. He wrote a tiny note to God, wishing Him (God) Happy New Year and also told Him that he loved Him. I felt so privilege that he asked me to come and see the balloon float to heaven, and we ended up having a little church right there in our back yard. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I needed a touch from God, a special touch, and I got it. Right here, in the most unexpected way. While watching the balloon turn into a tiny speck, I imagined I could see the smile of God fill the heavens. I was so aware of His presence, His greatness and his love for me and my son in that moment.
Aren’t you grateful for times like this. It keeps us going, it gives us new hope, it strengthens our faith that waver so easily. I don’t want to seem greedy, but I found myself asking for more tokens of affection like that. In fact I’m sure I miss many of those, I don’t want to, I need to be reminded that God loves me and that He’s beauty is all around me.

Look for the little tokens of His love and beauty this year, it’s all around you too.