Do you know everything about Autism?

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I sure don’t!

I have read various articles and been on courses but I feel like my knowledge is but a drop in the ocean!

I am facing a challenge at school. There are quite a few Autistic learners or learners with Asperger Syndrome.

As parents and teachers of children on the Autism spectrum know, these children sometimes present with other learning barriers too. In most of my learners’ cases it is ADHD.

I’m very excited because tomorrow counselors and teachers from our school is going to visit another school to learn more about helping these special needs learners.

I know having all the academic background is a must, but I would love practical advice on how to help these learners cope with our curriculum and also teach them the necessary social skills to deal with everyday life. Every individual has his/her own set of unique circumstances, learning style and coping mechanisms.

Please comment with tips that worked for you in cases where the learner battles with frustration due to sensory overload or inability to interact appropriately in a class situation.

There is a Sotho proverb that says: Motho ke motho ka batho. (A person is a person through other people).

There are so many people with specialised training that has tried many different techniques that work with special needs learners. Is it appropriate to ask for help? I sure hope so! I want to learn everything I can to help each learner in my class be their optimal self and to learn with enthusiasm.

Thank you for your input guys and galls! It is really appreciated.

xxx much love – hesta.

Why would God use me?

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 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Romans 5:6

I saw an awesome video clip last night that really made me think. God uses people who first has to hit that thick, impenetrable stonewall of hopelessness. When you’ve realized that you can’t do anything on your own, that you need God in your life because without Him, you will just fade into nothingness – that’s when He will use you.

It made me look at who He used in the Bible. Check this out:

The next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, just remember….
Noah was a drunk;
Abraham was too old;
Isaac was a daydreamer;
Jacob was a liar;
Leah was ugly;
Joseph was abused;
Moses had a stuttering problem;
Gideon was afraid;
Samson had long hair and was a womanizer;
Rahab was a prostitute;
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young;
David had an affair and was a murderer;
Elijah was suicidal;
Isaiah preached naked;
Jonah ran from God;
Naomi was a widow;
Job went bankrupt;
Peter denied Christ (3 times!);
The Disciples fell asleep while praying;
Martha worried about everything;
Mary Magdalene was promiscuous;
the Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once…
Zaccheus was too small;
Paul was too religious;
Timothy had an ulcer…..
AND
Lazarus was dead!

I am learning that Jesus gives me endless hope. I don’t need to be perfect to be used by God, just willing. He will even make me able.

 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 1 Corinthians 1:27,28

Awesome isn’t it?!

Use me Lord.

Use me Lord.

xxx much love – hesta.

I am a teacher!

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I’m a teacher…………..

Behind that doctor, there I am, a teacher………..
Behind that economist, there I am, a teacher……….
Above those astronomers there I am, a
teacher……………….

I carry the light even though they mock my passion………..

But i am a teacher……..

I don’t qualify for a RDP house nor earn enough to buy an expensive one…………………..

I drive a cheap 3rd or even forth hand car that I’ve learned to fix myself so that it can take me from my home to my school, because I am a teacher……………

Some think or even say that I have so many holidays, never knowing that I
I spend those holidays either researching or planning what and how I’m going to teach when I go back to school…….

Because I am a teacher…….. I sometimes get confused and even stressed by the ever changing policies that the politicians, who have political power over what and how I have to teach, lay down as law…….

On pay days I don’t laugh as others do and by the next day I have to come with a smile to those that I teach………..

Because I’m a teacher………

The main source of my satisfaction is when I see my learners growing, succeeding, bravely facing the world and its challenges.

Yes I am a teacher……..

It doesn’t matter how people look at me. It doesn’t matter how much more they earn than me because what they have wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for me……..

I am a teacher………..

(A beautiful post by my friend and colleague Barbara-Mari Du Toit with a few tweaks by me!)

To all teachers starting school for this new year: Carpe Diem! Go get them, inspire them and make that difference!

I teach.

I teach.

xxx much love – hesta.

So, what’s new in your life?

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in with the new

in with the new

 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelations 21:5a)

As the old year 2013 drew it’s last breath, my sons and I were in church with thousands of others listening to this Word.

We all have bad attitudes, words and feelings. We grumble, moan and criticize the government, our bosses, the economy, the crime rate, our family members, our friends. No use trying to deny that one.

And in the spirit of new year we always want to make a resolution to try again. Good and well, and some even last to February!

But I’m not going to make resolutions in my own strength anymore. I want to make resolutions standing on God’s Word, His promises for each one of us, His strength when I can’t carry on anymore.

So here’s my new attitude:
 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,

14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;

16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. (Philipians 3:14-16)

New words:
1 A gentle answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.

2 The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable,
But the mouth of fools spouts folly.

4 A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:1,2,4)

New feelings:
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.( Philipians 4:4-7)

And this year I’m claiming this promise of God for you and me dear friends:

11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.

13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.

14 I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

May you be blessed in 2014!

Happy
NEW
year!!

Bless this year

Bless this year

xxx much love – hesta.

Meditations on Madiba…

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Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

This morning when I woke up, Nelson Mandela was dead. Just so quietly gone…

I remember the vigils everyone had when he was in hospital a couple of months ago. There were candles and prayers and singing. And he went home after weeks in the hospital and everyone sighed a collective sigh of relief.

And now he is really gone. And I’ve been thinking this whole day of the changes he started in our country.

I was raised to have a racist point of view by parents who I loved dearly but who didn’t know better because they were raised by parents who came from parents who were at war with black tribes for survival. And we can all throw many stones but somewhere someone had to say, “the buck stops here. Racism must end”. And that was what Mandela did.

He had every right to be angry, bitter and full of hate to those who imprisoned him. Yet he chose to walk in forgiveness. He lived it everyday. He became for me an example of a person who shows grace and mercy to those who didn’t deserve it. That you can love anyone as your brother and sister, no matter their skin colour.

I looked on after 1994 and waited for him to fall flat on his face as a president. “What would he know about good governance?” was my thought. But he governed well. He rose to the occasion. He didn’t abuse his power to enrich himself. He didn’t abuse his power to put family members in positions of influence. He taught me that a good leader, leads by example. That a good leader walks behind his people to herd them in the right direction, to be there to pick up stragglers. That the people mattered not just an elect few.

I have only known two truly good people to ever live in my lifetime, Mother Teresa and Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

He left a legacy of hope to a nation divided. That out of diversity can come unity.

I really hope we live up to it.

Rest in peace Tata Madiba, until we meet again.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Are you ready?

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With keen interest I watched comet ISON’s coming and going. It was called by many ‘The comet of the century’. Last night when it made perihelion and fizzled out, I saw on Twitter how many people were very disgusted, because they wanted a brilliant display during December.

But do they know that ISON is one of six (yes 6!) comets on course past Earth? One comet is commonplace, two rare, three spectacular, but six! Biblical for sure!

The Word says that there will be signs in the heavens before the coming of our Saviour, Jesus. We would be fools to disregard them.

The last couple of weeks we have had severe thunderstorms here in Johannesburg. Hail the size of tennis balls hurtle down, destroying roofs, windows, cars and scaring the living daylights out of everyone.

I was reminded of a passage in Romans 1:18 ‘ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.’ I might be wrong but it sure feels like the wrath of God raining down on us.

So are you ready? If Jesus appears on the clouds and calls us home, will you be leaving with me? What glorious thought that all our suffering might be coming to an end soon!

I’m becoming a cloudgazer. I really feel it can’t be long anymore. The best is yet to come!

Are you coming along? If not, where do you think you’ll be going? God is merciful and just and He said He forgives our sins if we repent and ask Him to be our Saviour.

There is no time friends.

Are you coming? Are you ready?

Greater things are yet to come...

Greater things are yet to come…

The most delicious corn bread loaf ever!

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I have gotten this recipe from a friend and adapted it a little. There is absolutely no skill needed except for measuring a few ingredients.

I made this devine loaf to have with a braai (in non-South-African speak, a barbecue). My guests LOVE it and always ask for the recipe.

Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

You need:
2 cups (250ml size) self raising flour
2 eggs
1 tin of condensed milk
1 tin of sweet corn
2 teaspoons baking powder

Just mix everything in a bowl.
Spray non-stick spray in a bread pan.
Pour mixture into pan.
Put in oven for 45 min. or until golden brown on top. You can test if insides are cooked with a thin kebab stick.
Take out of oven when done and carefully turn bread out onto cooling rack.

It is DELICIOUS piping hot or cold. Serve with salad and barbecued meat. And it goes extra delicious with real butter, but for health conscious people, low-fat margarine will do.

Try it and let me know what you think! You WILL LOVE it. It’s easy, fast and practically foolproof.

Enjoy!

Yummy sweet corn loaf.

Yummy sweet corn loaf.

Are you good at gardening?

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I am not good at gardening. In actual fact, I didn’t like gardening very much. I couldn’t stand the bending and getting up, the weeds that conspired to stay stuck in the ground, the sun that beat down on you and in my case, turned me into a light shade of tomato.

So I surprised myself two weekends ago when the gardening bug bit me. Maybe it was a long ago friend whose voice I heard in my head (which happened far too much lately) that told me that gardening is great therapy for stressed out, over worked moms and teachers like me.

I put on my brand new (nearly two years old but never used) gardening gloves because I don’t like dirt under my nails. I got out the tools (nearly rusty from no use) and started cleaning and weeding.

My garden is tiny. Probably a whole 12 by 6 metres! But it still took me three (yes 3!) Saturdays to weed the garden and plant a vegetable patch and put in some water wise flowers.

I really surprised myself because I thought I would quit half way through as usual. But as I put faces in front the shovel and rake of everyone who irritated me lately, I felt much better after a gardening session. And I’m sure it cost me less than a therapist or anger management class!

Now I’m like a mom who has to go and check on her babies every afternoon after work. I am so chuffed when I see little green shoots coming up in my vegetable patch. I see myself as one of those super efficient farmer’s wives on “Little house on the Prairie”! (Yeah right ;-))

As I add to my garden and decorate it for the coming festive season, I will keep you updated.

Take up gardening. I can’t tell you how good it feels to see something that you have planted, grow. Or how much stress relief there actually is in getting your hands (in my case gloves) dirty.

Happy gardening friends!

My tiny garden.

My tiny garden.

On marriage…

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I was at a beautiful wedding yesterday. As the bride walked down the isle in her wedding dress and cowboy boots to a country song, my heart remembered my special day and our unconventional wedding.

The nervous jitters of all the people helping to make it a special day to remember and cherish, gave me a grin. It was precious to see how much love and commitment went into the planning and execution of a perfect wedding. And like all human plans, unplanned things happened.

In all the preparation to lay out the reception hall, the groom forgot his clothes at his mom’s house and had to rush back to get it! The look of panic and determination on his face will always stay with me! It was the first wedding I attended where the groom was thirty minutes late! But the bride took it in her stride and was still smiling all the way down the isle with eyes of adoration on her husband- to-be.

The chocolate fountain didn’t work too well as a near-gale force wind cooled the chocolate down. But that didn’t deter the guests! They used the marshmallows and fruit sticks to scoop chocolate out, and had a ball eating the deliciousness while photos were being taken.

I enjoyed watching all the happy faces while everyone posed with the bride and groom. I felt a pang of sadness over my happy-ever-after that didn’t end so happily.
But I will keep on going to weddings. I will keep on believing in happy-ever-after. I will stay the hopeless romantic that I am. I will believe in love. Because I believe in God.

I will bore you another day with the tale on ‘How not to get divorced’ but today I celebrate the marriage of two special people and I pray Jer. 29:11 over them. That God’s plans for them are good is a fact, but that they will stay in His will, bound together with the cord of the Holy Spirit, a united front against attacks.

My wedding anniversary was a couple of days ago. It would have been 20 years this year. Shakespeare comes to mind and it is apt to close my memory with his Sonnet 116.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
   If this be error and upon me proved,
   I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

May you stay in God’s will Frikkie and Niqi, loving each other everyday like yesterday.

Xxx hesta

Why do I believe in God?

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I believe in God because sometimes my world is so awesome that my soul shouts out for someone to thank. Then I thank Him!

I believe in God because sometimes the mountains and sunsets and moon and clouds are so breathtakingly beautiful that I need to praise the creator of all things beautiful. Then I praise Him!

I believe in God because sometimes things happen that are completely unplanned and hurt so much! Then I feel as if no one understands, but then I remember His Hands and the Man on the cross. Then I know Someone is crying with me. It’s Him!

I believe in God because sometimes I feel so confused and my life so without meaning and my dreams look so unreachable. Then I need someone to walk this journey with me and show me the way. Then He is there!

I believe in God because sometimes I do such stupid things and sin mess up my heart and life and hurt my loved ones. Then I need Someone to forgive me and bring me wisdom and peace. Then He is there!

He makes whole everything I’ve broken.
He gives Grace even when I’ve caused all the pain myself!

I believe in God because sometimes I really don’t know anything! I need guidance and wisdom in an upside-down world that I don’t always understand. Then I read the Words He wrote in the Bible and I hear His voice and things start to make sense again.

I believe in God because I don’t ever want to be alone again or do anything or make any choice without Him.

I believe in God, in Jesus and in His Spirit because He is always there! All the time! Always!

My dearest aunt Sarah sends me inspirational messages every day. This comes from her pen…

I hope I have inspired you just a little bit today.

Call of duty: Modern warfare – playground duty

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Every week the dreaded day arrives, playground duty day…

To prepare the teacher whose task it is to be on duty for those 20 minutes every 2 hours, I have compiled a general profile of the villains, victims and innocent bystanders that you will meet on the common primary school playground.

Profile #1: The thundering herd

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Mostly boys but now and then a very brave girl would venture into this herd. The teams can vary in size from two-a-side to twenty! They will kick around anything from a soccer ball to an empty cooldrink bottle. Loud displays of joy when a goal is scored will go along with chest bumping and high-fiving. But be aware, this raucous thundering herd can morph into a rioting mob if anyone outside of the teams tried to steal their “ball”. Always keep them in your line of vision.

Profile #2: Pinky and the Brain

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You will usually find Pinky and the Brain in the higher grades. They will be huddling together in the corner of the playground. They seem very docile and timid but beware! All is not as it seems. Pinky, the goofy side-kick will do anything the Brain tells him to. He would be the probable villain to steal the thundering herd’s ball and try to run away with it, while the Brain would sit back and enjoy the ensuing mob attacking Pinky to retrieve said ball.

Profile #3: The WWE- wannabes

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There will always be John Cena- extreme-fans on your playground. Take special care as these young boys of all age groups will tagteam-up to body slam each other into the grassless spots. Then they will attempt 619’s, clothes-lines and try to finish each other off with tombstone pile-drivers. Those are some of the worst offenders on a playground because they think they are “just playing”.

Profile #4: The brats

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These girls usually crowd around a main-brat. They discuss hair and make-up and boys in whispers and giggles. They walk around with a swagger and the typical flick of the hair. They would normally be found around the thundering herd as the jocks will be dribbling past their giggles and waves. They are the least physical group to look out for but they can become gossipy and mean to loners that are not part of their pack.

Profile #5: The Power-Puff girls

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These are usually a group of leaders who are not on duty. They roam the playground showing off their power by telling other children who are dawdling in the bathrooms they will be put on detention. They are the least of your problems, dear playground-duty-teacher, but the children who are harassed by them will come and report the incident to you and then you will be distracted and not see the pile-drivers happening or the mob thundering.

Profile #6: The Dexters

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These are the best children to have on a playground. They walk around alone, with books tucked under their arms. They talk to themselves about inventions and ideas and are oblivious to anything around them. Unfortunately they do not look where they are going and would wander into the way of the thundering herd or become the victim of Pinky and the Brain. They will get trampled and pushed and will end up under a pile of sweaty jocks. They also break easily so it is best to make sure that you herd them away from an oncoming stampede.

There are several other types to remember as well, dear playground – duty – teacher, but they are any teacher’s dream. The Little Bo-Beeps who sit quietly and play with their friends, having a tea party and saying kind things to each other will make you smile as you glance around warily for the approaching storm. The Drama Queens will put on a special show for whoever wants to look and listen about whatever they have seen or heard on television last night or some of them will even play school-school.

You have twenty minutes dear playground – duty – teacher. Be vigilant. Be aware. Have eyes in the back of your head and ears like satelite dishes. 

Lock and load your megaphone – voice, all the patience you can muster and go, go, go!!

Are your child being bullied?

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what is bullying

I remember when I was at school, the bully was a big girl named Dottie who ate 5 pies at break, took your lunch money, pushed or tripped you and laughed when you walked past. The best thing was to avoid her and eventually it was quite easy. You had to walk further to get to where you wanted to go but you didn’t have to walk past her. There were always teachers and prefects you could turn to and after school you were safe because she didn’t live close to you…

But today, bullies look different and act different…

As a teacher I usually pride myself on being able to scope out who the potential bullies are in my classes, but lately I am doubting even that ability.

Research shows that almost 97% of children gets bullied at some stage in their school life. The newest trend is cyber-bullying. It is the act of bullying a person on a social network site like Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, Wechat, Mxit, BBM etc. and it affects mostly teenagers. It is repeated behaviour where teenagers are exposed to cruel comments, false rumours being spread about them, purposefully damaging a person’s reputation and purposeful exclusion from a group.

Some interesting statistics about cyber-bullying:

  1. 43% of teenagers have been bullied  more than once online.
  2. 70% of students report that they have seen frequent bullying.
  3. 80% of teens use a cellphone regularly, making it the most common medium for cyber-bullying.
  4. 81% of students think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person.
  5. 90% of teenagers who have seen social-media bullying, say they have ignored it.
  6. 84% of teenagers have seen others tell cyber-bullies to stop.
  7. Only 1 out of 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse.
  8. 75% of students have visited a website bashing another student.
  9. Bullying victims are 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide.
  10. In response to being bullied 35% of students respond in person; 15% avoid going to school; 4.5% have been in a physical fight with the bully.
  11. 10% of parents are targets of cyber-bullying.  

loserI hate you on phone

What does this type of bullying do to our children?

As a “herd – animal” teenagers want to fit into their peer-group. They are looking for their individual identity but during adolescence they find it in being part of a collective group. Cyber-bullying cuts the individual off from the collective. It shuns the victim, isolating him or her from their peers. No-one wants to associate with that person for fear of also becoming an outcast. We all know how fragile a teenager’s self-esteem can be. Bullying makes a teen doubt his/her self-worth.

Horrifying indeed! And obviously to make it so much worse, parents and even teachers would rarely know when a teen is being cyber-bullied unless they have such an open relationship with the child that he or she will take them into their confidence. Many times adults only realise that something is going on when their child withdraws completely from the company of even family members. They are in their rooms all the time and a definite change in their mood can be detected. Although teenagers are “normally” moody due to hormonal changes, a bullied child will be severely moody.

Bullying can escalate to such an extent that the victim wants to commit suicide. Around 4 400 deaths were recorded worldwide last year as a result of cyber-bullying. Over 14% of highschool students have considered suicide and 7% have attempted it. Girls between 10 and 14 years old seems to have the highest risk for committing suicide.

Warning signs to look out for:

  • severe depression
  • losing interest in favourite activities
  • having trouble sleeping and eating
  • engaging in dangerous or harmful activities
  • reckless behaviour
  • substance abuse
  • self injury
  • saying that they can’t handle things anymore

girl being bullied

How do you avoid cyber-bullying?

  • Don’t post personal information. This includes your address, phone number, school name, passwords etc.
  • The above rule applies also to the personal information of others. You do not have the right to post personal information of others and it is considered a criminal offense.
  • Don’t be gullible. Don’t believe everything you read.
  • Never open messages from strangers. If you do not know who the person is, delete the message immediately.
  • Refrain from responding. It may be tempting to defend yourself or clear your reputation, but giving bullies attention will only encourage them to continue the harassment.
  • Keep track of the bullying. Copy and save any chats or mails. Take a screen shot of your computer for evidence.
  • If you are aware of the identity of the bully, block him / her immediately.
  • Change your password often especially on school networks. Never set a password to save on a public network.
  • Notify the social network of any abuse immediately.
  • Be careful what you post. If someone asks you for nude pictures, don’t comply as it will be used against you and it is also against the law.

Hopefully the teenager will speak to a trusted adult about it and advise and support can be given. But it is very difficult to stop cyber-bullying without evidence, so make sure you collect as much as possible before taking it to the authorities. New laws regarding the use of technology to exploit and defame others are in the conceptual phase. Let’s hope the government will realise the plight of many of our children and move forward quickly so that they can be protected.

As a parent I worry about my sons. I worry about the children in my classes. Let’s try to have open, trusting relationships with our children so that we will know what is going on in their lives and to help them cope with the difficulties they are facing.

think before you post

Why do homework?

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A few of my students wrote an essay about homework and why or why not to do it. I would love to share their points of view with you.

Are there benefits to homework?

#1 It teaches us to be successful in life. If you wanna be successful, you have to do homework.

#2 It will help us become professional and responsible.

#3 It helps us pass the grade with good marks.

#4 If we do our work wrong then Mam can tell us so that we can fix it and fix it and fix it until we get it right, so that we can pass the grade because Mam pushed us to get the knowledge and know the work.

Ah, then one of the learners took it a step further:

Let’s look at the reasons why I don’t like to do my homework:

#1 Sometimes I really forget to do my homework. (But I know that is no excuse.)

#2 Sometimes I don’t write in my diary. 

#3 Sometimes there are subjects I don’t like and I don’t like doing their homework.

#4 It is so boring to do homework….

#5 Sometimes I am so tired and I don’t have the strength to do it.

#6 I am an extremely slow reader, therefore when I get to the end of a sentence, I have forgotten what is written in the beginning.

And then the cherry on my proverbial cake!

What am I going to do to help myself do homework:

#1 Do the difficult stuff first.

#2 I am definitely going to put my cellphone in my bag because it is like a magnet calling me to please pick it up!

#3 I’m going to get organised and set myself a time limit.

#4 I have to improve my reading to read faster.

#5 I have to stop being quiet in class and ask for more help. But it it difficult because I want to do things on my own.

#6 I can stop playing video games and do some reading excercises.

I am so proud of each learner that sat down and thought this topic through. It was a punishment excercise since they didn’t complete their homework, but a lot of really postive things came out of it.

#1 They are learning to write creatively.

#2 They are learning to express themselves by using good vocabulary.

# They are thinking about a problem and are trying to solve it.

Although homework is given to practise in skills learnt at school, I also realised that children need to be children more. We are pressuring them to excel in everything from a very early age, forgetting that when we were that young, there we more time to play outside than now. 

Alas my dear students, I will still give homework but I will give it with a gentle hand, because I love you…

(Many thanks to each one of my students for allowing me to use their writing in this blog. All of them are in grade 7 and are between 12 and 14 years old.)

Who are special needs children?

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In my professional capacity I can give you the educationally correct answer that special needs children are those who have a physical or mental barrier to learning. The children who walk around with hearing aids, ride around with wheel chairs, stroll around with Autism , ADHD, Epilespy, ODD, OCD, Asberger’s syndrome etc etc…

But what about the little girl who walked into my class this morning after hearing her parents are getting a divorce? What about that boy who was ridiculed at break for being overweight? What about that girl whose uncle touches her inappropriately or the boy whose father hits him in a fit of rage in his drunken stupor.

Our education system has policies in place for bullying, physical and even mental abuse, but how many schools and teachers are equipped to deal with these growing crowd of special needs children?

Our children are bombarded with pornography, sexting, alcohol abuse and drugs everyday. They face peer-pressure through chat-rooms and facebook, twitter and instant messaging.

I think EVERY child nowadays are special needs children. Every one of them needs to hear: “You are worth it!” 

“You are loved.”

“Although you might not have been planned by your parents, you are no mistake. God knew about you and chose you to exist in the family that you are.”

“Whatever is  happening in your parents’ lives is not your fault.”

“You will get through this difficult times.”

“There are people that care deeply for you even if they are not blood family.

It is time to open our eyes and notice when our children are withdrawn. It is time to put TIME into our relationships with our children. Giving them a smartphone or a X Box or a PSP or even money to keep themselves busy will not remove their need. It actually compounds it.

Are we leaving our children vulnerable and in need? 

I pray for each child and parent and teacher. I pray that the words we say will be thought out before it leaves our mouths. Whether friend to friend as children or adult to child. That we look for healing in our own lives so that we can help heal in the lives of others.Image

Are you also an invisible mom?

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It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I’m invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask,’What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’ Some days I’m a crystal ball; ‘Where’s my other sock?, Where’s my phone?, What’s for dinner? ‘

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history, music and literature – but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going,she’s going, she’s gone!

A story of legend in a book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof. No one will ever see it’ And the workman replied,’Because God sees.’

And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals – we have no record of their names.
2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished
3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me to notice and smile over .You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

(I heard this story at a conference once, so I don’t know exactly who to credit, but what a blessing it has been to me, and hopefully to you too!)

Enjoy your new week friends!

Much love

Why pray anyway?

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I have been battling with the question for some time. Then I saw this great explanation on a church friend’s Facebook. I share it gladly in the hope that you too will understand why we should pray even if God knows everything anyway.

People say, “Well, he’s praying and praying and he’s saying ultimately God do whatever You’re going to do anyway. Why pray?” This is always the tension. I think, and I was reading this just last week, that Dr. Barnhouse had a great illustration to convey something of the relationship between our prayers and God’s sovereignty and will. Listen to what he writes.

We will suppose the case of a man who loves violin music. Okay? He has the means to buy for himself a very fine violin and he also purchases the very best radio he can buy. He builds a library of the great musical scores so that he is able to take any piece that is announced on the radio, put it on his music stand and play along with the orchestra.

The announcer says that Mr. Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra are going to play Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony. The man in his home puts the symphony on his stand, tunes his violin with what he hears coming from the orchestra. The music that comes from the radio we might call foreordained. Ormandy is going to follow the score just as Beethoven wrote it. The man in his living room starts to scratch away at the first violin part.

He misses beats, he loses his place, he finds it again, he breaks a string, he stops to fix it, but the music goes on and on. He finds his place again and plays on after his fashion till the symphony is ended.

The announcer names the next work that is to be played and the fiddler puts that number on his rack. And day after day and week after week and month after month and year after year, he finds pleasure in scraping his fiddle along with the violins of the great orchestra. Their music is determined in advance. What he must do is to learn to play in their tempo, in their key and to follow the score as its been written in advance. If he decides that he wants to play “Yankee Doodle” when the orchestra is in the midst of a Brahms number, there’s going to be dissonance and discord in the man’s house. But not in the Academy of Music.

After some years of this, the man may be a rather creditable violin player and may have learned to submit himself utterly to the scores that are written and follow the program as played.

Harmony and joy come from the submission and cooperation.

Then Barnhouse says this, “So it is with the plan of God, it is rolling toward us unfolding day by day as He has planned it before the foundation of the world. There are those who fight against it and ultimately are cast into outer darkness because he will not have in His heaven those who probably resist Him. This cannot be tolerated anymore than the authorities would permit a man to bring his own violin into the Academy of Music and start to play Shostakovich when the program called for Bach. The score of God’s plan is set forth in the Bible and in the measure that I learn it, submit myself to it and lived…or seek to live in accordance with it, I shall find myself in joy and in harmony with God and His plans. If I set myself to fight against it or disagree with that which comes forth, there can be no peace in my heart and life. If in my heart I seek to play a tune that is not melody the Lord has for me, there will be nothing but dissonance.

Prayer is learning to play the same tune that the eternal God plays and to play it the way the eternal composer wrote it and meant it to be played.”

Maybe that helps you. God’s sovereignty puts out the foreordained tune to be played. Prayer is learning to play in tune. But even when we’re out of tune, it doesn’t mess up the celestial orchestra. Fortunately we hear them but they apparently don’t hear us when we’re out of line.

Stock taking…

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Every 16th day of August I do stock taking, probably because it’s my birthday and I have this nagging desire in me to check if my life is moving forward. I know that sounds alot like being a perfectionist, but I pride myself in being a recovering perfectionist!

So is my life better than last year this time? Let me see…

My boys can drive me nuts more than half of the time but then they can be so sweet and considerate and loving more than half of the time too. Every year, with great secrecy, my birthday breakfast gets planned and executed. This morning I upgraded from scambled   eggs and toast to coffee and cookies at half past four in the morning!

Their handwritten cards, hugs and kisses will make any difficult day for the rest of the year bearable.

At school I wonder if I ever make any impact on the children. Schooldays are very difficult most of the time, with children pushing every boundary, some even becoming downright rude sometimes. But then on my birthday morning, I get hugs from every child I meet as I walk to the assembly area, they all burst into “Happy birthday to you!” as soon as I round the corner, and my table groan under packages and letters written in their bestest handwriting to tell my I’m a cool teacher.

Some days I wonder if God remembers me? Things go wrong and I wish He can magically make it right. Like my car is a Skorro-skorro! It is on the road out of pure grace and mercy alone! But then again, God has promised us many things but never a smooth ride.

I look at my friends who I sometimes think have such busy lives that they don’t have time for me. Then they organise a picnic on the playground, at break while we are doing play-ground duty, and know, they still love me and care about me.

I receive sms’s, mails, tweets and facebook messages. I get phone calls from my brother, sister-in-law and nieces.

I am loved.

Life is good.

Thank you God. Thank you for giving me another day, a birthday! to celebrate life with my loved ones. Thank you for blessing me with health and good-looks!! (Haha , I had to put that in!) Thank God for blessing me more than I deserve.

Friends, I sincerely hope that your birthdays are just as precious and when you take stock, that you realise that every minute, every breath you take is good, even through the difficult days.

Have a super Friday and lovely weekend. I will…. my birthday will carry on this whole weekend!

Clutter, what clutter?

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Jon Gordon says, ‘We fill our minds with thoughts that hold us back, habits that limit us, distractions that derail us, negative people who drain us, fear that paralyses us, time-sappers that sabotage our productivity. We fill up with so many things that generate negative energy, there’s no room for positive energy in our lives.’

Paul writes, ‘…throw off your…former way of life…let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes’ (vv. 22-23 NLT).

The clutter you need to lose includes: believing that you’re alone, trying to please everybody, feeling insecure, putting yourself down, ,jumping to negative conclusions before you know the facts, thinking you’re always right, recalling all the times you messed up, needing to have all the answers, worrying that if you let go of the memorabilia you’ll lose the memories, agonising that you’re not rich, good or clever enough, surrounding yourself with people who remember the bad times and not the good, viewing life like a movie instead of participating, believing that your best days are over, always waiting for the right moment, fearing you will look foolish, focusing on negative type-casting…and anything else you don’t want to pass on to your children.

How can you get rid of the clutter? ‘…let the Spirit renew your…attitudes.’

Have a great Women’s day friends!

Xxxx hesta

xxxxx hesta

At what speed are you living?

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Since the beginning of the new school term it feels as if I am living at the speed of blur.

Getting up in time, rushing to get everyone dressed and ready for school, rushing to school, rushing through the classes, rushing to meetings, rushing home, rushing to do emergency shopping, rushing to finish housework, rushing, rushing, rushing!!

Is your life also that hectic?

I heard a beautiful quote to summarise exactly how I feel about all this rushing:

I try to take it one day at a time, but some days attack me all at once!

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Me? Well, I eat chocolate and do deep breathing exercises. My temper (and temperature!) rises on hectic days, so I truly try to not let rip.

When I do get a chance to be quiet, I remind myself that what I do, need to have eternity value. But how does sitting in a traffic jam add value to my life eternally? Perhaps only if I use that time productively, catching up on my children’s day or praying for a friend who is in my thoughts? Some days I just sit and realise after 10 minutes that no thought crossed my mind! A complete blank!

Then I must remember to have mercy on myself. We push ourselves to the brink of what we can manage and sometimes beyond. Do you do that too?

I want to be in green pastures and beside still waters but until then…I will try to take life slower, to savour precious moments and tolerate waste-of-time moments.

I hope that in your hectic schedule friends, you also find that spot of tranquility where you will be the best person you can be.

xxxx hesta

Let me do something beautiful for you…

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I’m contemplating life (and death) tonight.

We buried a very special friend today and not a couple of months ago a favorite cousin too.

I was shocked by both deaths because they were so unexpected and because both of them are only a couple of years older than me!

It made me realize how fleeting life actually was. How we waste time holding grudges, feeling offended. Or rushing through the busy-ness of everyday without seeing the beauty around us, touching those we love ánd those we don’t want to love.

Does your life have eternity-value? If you die today, will there be others that can proclaim before our Judge you loved them when they were unloveable? You helped them when they needed a helping hand? You showed them the way to the Light and Grace and Mercy of a loving Father? You spent time with them when you could have spent time doing what yóu wanted?

I want to start a conscious, daily, random act of kindness-thing. For in being randomly kind to someone, without expecting something back, we will be living like Christ wanted us to live – souled out to Him, to loving the world as He loves us.

I hope to do something everyday to touch someone’s life in a positive way. My friend’s life reminded me of that. How she was always gracious, generous, loving. Never a push-over but always ready to do good.

I’m sorry that the death of a friend had to tear me out of the inertia I’ve fallen into. We know these things, know that our days are numbered, that we all will one day reach the finish line and step over into the Glorious Light. Yet somehow, we still live as if we will live forever, and doing that good deed, spending that couple of minutes can wait until tomorrow.

I’m reminded that God knows us so well:
“Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” -Psalm 139:16 (Msg)

May He grant me the strength to follow through on this decision. To live life fully, loving without expecting something back.

Until we meet again in Glory, rest in God’s arms my friend!

xxxxx hesta

Taking it slow…

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During our winter holidays, I love:
1. Sleeping in, but then again the kids are still up at six.

2. Reading a magazine while lying in bed, but then again 4 children’s voices avidly discussing what they like and dislike distract me.

3. Spending more quiet time in prayer, but then again running and yelling down the passageway make it véry difficult to concentrate.

4. Window shopping to give me craft ideas, but then again I get bombarded with “can I get that toy!?” Or “I’m really hungry and tired, can we have lunch?” Or walking past the movies “We haven’t seen a movie in ages!”

5. Crafting but then again I get the “No-one plays with me!”

6. Knitting but then again the washing is a lot more and chores don’t seem to end.

So I’m not going to complain when my-time becomes their-time most of the time.

God gave me these arrows to shoot into the future and the only way I’m going to do that semi-right is if I spend time with them.

Love can sometimes be measured – in time.

How are you doing in the holidays friends?

xxxxx hesta

Father’s day: What my dad taught me…

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My brother sent me a mail this morning with this message:’ This will make you think about our dad…’ He’s been gone for 10 years now but will never be forgotten!

What my dad taught me…
He taught me to crawl but also taught me that when I’m all grown up not to crawl for what I want, but to wórk for it…

He taught me that not everything in life ends like a fairy tale and that a cactus is a flower too…

He taught me about north, east, south and west but also that only I can determine the direction my life takes by the choices I make…

He taught me that the shortest way to a man’s heart is through the TV remote, with all the sport channels as main course…

He taught me that Bostik can fix anything from a broken kettle to a broken heart…

He taught me that grid, grout and great is not the same thing…

He taught me not to blame my sister (me!) If the half moon hangs in the night sky and I said she broke it.

He taught me there is always three sides to a story: my side, your side and the right side.

He taught me the most loyal and cheapest pet is a piggy bank.

He taught me that the most beautiful woman in the world is my mother.

With tears in my eyes I remember my imperfect, perfect dad. Whose whispers of wisdom still echoes in my mind. And I can add to my brother’s thoughts:

He taught me to always get up when I fall.

That failure is a new beginning.

That smiling can make the sun shine brighter.

That overlooking someone’s faults don’t make you blind but gives you compassion.

That loving even when you feel unloved will come back to bless you hundred fold.

That prayer is always answered.

To our dad in heaven and to our DAD in heaven: Happy Father’s day!

xxxxx hesta

What is love?

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So I can’t knit very well since I am left-handed, but my gran taught me how to help myself holding the knitting needles in an odd fashion, one tucked under my arm. And I really can’t read a knitting pattern.

But one of the loves in my life wanted gloves without fingers….

So I checked on pinterest and I phoned an aunt who is a wizz at knitting and I worked out a pattern that I can understand. Which means it has to be pretty easy!

I can only knit in my free time, which is becoming increasingly less with the midyear exams coming on and me helping at the aftercare at school too.

But I persevered! I’m so chuffed! My Ruhan-love sat big-eyed on my bed, watching me sow the sides closed. His anticipation matched my dread that it might not fit.

Oh joy! Everything fit perfectly! The joy on his little face is evident!!

Friends, sometimes something as simple as a pair of fingerless gloves can fill a love-tank. A colleague at work asked me why I bothered battling with the knitting if I probably could buy it for cheaper. I’ll show her this photograph in answer to her question.

Love is an act of service, a physical touch, a word of affirmation, special time spent and a gift given out of your heart.

What are you doing this week to fill a love-tank of one of those you love?

xxxxx hesta

Choices

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But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil. [If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which] I command you today, to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land into which you go to possess. (Deut.30:14-16)

Some days I let feelings overwhelm me. Feelings of being an inadequate mother because I struggle in my relationship with my teenage son. Feelings of despair when I think too much about how much I have lost in my marriage and family. Feelings of loneliness when there is only children’s voices around me all day and I long for adult communication. Feelings can be overwhelming. Feelings put you on a slippery slope into depression – that deep dark pit where you claw at the sides but don’t get anywhere, especially not out.

But then God’s Word is like a flashlight. Its high beam focus on that verse that will bring you hope and lift your spirit.

Then you realize, feelings are fickle. You should trust what you knów.

I know I’m not alone because God said He will never leave me or forsake me. I know I will pull through this rough patch with my boy because God said His Word is like a lamp to my feet and will give me wisdom if I seek it with all my heart. I know that I have more than I need because God said He will give me the desires of my heart, more than I can dream or think of.

So that leaves me with a choice. Everyday we have to choose between life and death.

I choose life. I choose joy. I choose to believe God will work everything out to the good of those who love Him. I choose to rejoice in the Lord. I choose to live tenaciously. To hold on to every promise of God that is yeah and amen because Jesus is my Saviour and friend and brother.

For those of you who also sometimes stand on the slippery slopes of despair and depression, hold on. Choose joy! God’s promise is that His peace that surpasses all understanding will fill your heart and mind.

Enjoy the new week. May it be filled with choices for joy, love, peace.

Xxxx hesta

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When the going gets tough….

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Friends, life is not easy… Sometimes you are faced with unspeakable sorrow or hardship.

This whole week God has laid on my heart one of my very special verses. Something to encourage you by when the questions “Why?” And “Why me?” run through your mind.

Rom.5:3,4 in the Amplified Bible
  Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.  And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.  Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

A friend of mine explained it with this image: you are like a lump of clay. Your true character lays hidden deep within you. So hardship comes like an artist’s knife to cut away everything until your proven true character shines through.

I believe all people are born good. I believe God has a plan for each and every life that is full of good things, to give them a hopeful future.

But we make choices that sometimes have very hard consequences.

Don’t lose heart my friends! God is so gracious to give us a new day to start again, a present. He knows our hearts, because He made us!

When life is hard and things look dim, remember, you are in the palm of His hand. He will not leave you or forsake you, He LOVES you!

Have a wonderful weekend! Press through! God knows you can make it!

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Missing you…

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I woke up this morning with the stark realisation that today it’s 10 years that my father, my confidant and best friend has gone to heaven.

Wow. Ten years? I really can’t believe it’s been so long. But then that also means that my mother has been gone for 14 years!

And that makes my brother and I orphans. It would surely make my parents’ hearts warm to know we 2 knitted together closer, our families looking forward to seeing each other. Yet, sometimes I look at mother’s and father’s days, see how other children disregard their parents and wish with an ache just to have one more conversation with them.

But before the gloom set in today, I will remember the following:
1. God works out everything to the good of those who love Him.
2. Both of them are healthy and painfree for that long time and are probably having long visits with my other family in heaven and hopefully bragging a bit about how we are doing down here.
3. Family doesn’t have to be blood relatives. So many moms and dads of friends have stepped up to the plate to be there in some way.
4. There is the glorious hope that I will be reunited with them one day. Together we will glorify our Saviour.

So, mom, dad, I miss you like crazy. My boys would have loved to know you and learn from your wisdom. And yes, you were right most of the time ;-))

Dear God, give them both a big hug from me today and everyday until we see each other again.

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The Daffodil principle

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I read this story on another blog. It touched me deeply. If we as parents or teachers have ‘vision’ like this, what could the world become? I share it in the hope it will inspire you too!

THE DAFFODIL PRINCIPLE  Author Unknown 

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, “Mother, you must come see he daffodils before they are over.” I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. “I will come next Tuesday, ” I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call. Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn’s house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, “Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!” My daughter smiled calmly and said, “We drive in this all the time, Mother.” 

“Well, you won’t get me back on the road until it clears, and then I’m heading for home!” I assured her. “I was hoping you’d take me over to the garage to pick up my car.” “How far will we have to drive?” “Just a few blocks,” Carolyn said. “I’ll drive. I’m used to this.” After several minutes, I had to ask, “Where are we going? This isn’t the way to the garage!” “We’re going to my garage the long way,” Carolyn smiled, ” by way of the daffodils.” “Carolyn,” I said sternly, “please turn around.” “It’s all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.” 

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a  small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign that read, “Daffodil Garden.” We got out of the car and each took a child’s hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers. “But who has done this?” I asked Carolyn. “It’s just one woman,” Carolyn answered. “She lives on the property. That’s her home.” Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory.

We walked up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster. “Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking” was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. “50,000 bulbs,” it read. The second answer was, “One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain.” The third answer was, “Began in 1958.” 

There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun-one bulb at a time-to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of indescribable magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time–often just one baby-step at a time–and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world. 

“It makes me sad in a way,” I admitted to Carolyn. “What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it ‘one bulb at a time’ through all those years. Just think what I might have been able to achieve!” My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. “Start tomorrow,” she said.

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Birds of a feather

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It’s the most peculiar thing that’s happening. Come the second school term and most of the lady teachers come to school armed with either knitting or crochet needles and a little bag with your particular wool and off course a plan or a “recipe” as I like to call it.

It’s all the principal’s fault! As an artistic man (and psychologist) he feels that if your hands stay busy creating something beautiful you will not fall into stress and depression and general nastiness. The first time was about three years ago when we walked into the staff room to find knitting needles and bags of wool awaiting us. The instruction: to knit in your free time (before or after school and breaks) a block of a certain size. But you were not supposed to take the knitting home. Even the men joined later! We knitted and harmony built around us. Those who couldn’t knit were patiently taught. The blocks were taken away when completed and sowed together into blankets. It was sent to a nursing home close by. Twenty completed blankets!

It has now become something more. Last year a friend taught me to crochet. I’m not very patient so it was also a valuable lesson in patience. And I obviously decided to jump into the deep end. I wanted to make my own blanket. This from someone who likes to give up when the going gets tough!

Well I’ve done it! Having stopped in August last year, I thought I might not continue with it this year. But I did! And I’m so glad! Now I have proof of patience and perseverance when the going gets tough.

I’m now trying to crochet a dog coat for my sick and old love, without a pattern having my own design in mind! I’ll let you know how it goes!

What are you making that’s teaching you life skills? Have a great creative week!

Xxx hesta

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Hello 2013!

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A blog that I’m following sent this post this morning. I was reading it next to my son’s hospital bed. He was suddenly taken ill and even after all the tests the doctors are not sure what is going on. His fever isn’t breaking yet.

So here I sit contemplating 2013. What will it hold for us? And I realise! We need to take it day by day, with our hand in Father’s and our eyes fixed on Him.

What is my life shouting now that trouble is at my door? My God reigns! By His stripes we are healed! God is the finisher of my faith! Even if I walk through water and fire it will not consume me for He is with me!

May you all have a wonderful new year where everyday you walk closer with Father, Jesus and Holy spirit!

I include the blog I follow: The single parenting journey.
What is Your Megaphone Broadcasting?
Posted: 31 Dec 2012 11:55 AM PST

I recently watched a sermon from one of my favorite speakers.  It gave me some great perspective!  The entire sermon was built around the question, “When life hands you troubles, your heart is a megaphone.  What is your heart saying to the world?” 

What a concept I hadn’t really thought of before.  When someone is struggling and going through troubles and they do not have Christ in their lives, or have not fully put their trust in Him it is often negatives that we hear.  It is depression, frustration, disbelief, and questions as to why God allowed such a thing or if He is even real anymore to them.  Those actions and words are a megaphone to the world.

Opposite is if someone has prepared their heart for such troubles, their heart typically beams things like, “God will work a miracle from this situation, God has overcome the world and will see me through, despite this circumstance I will see better days, or simply their joy and peace radiates through them and is also a megaphone.

Which megaphone would you rather hear from? Which megaphone do you want to be?

When life is going easy and seems like smooth sailing, it is time to prepare for trouble because the bible doesn’t say “IF” trouble comes, but “WHEN”.  If we are prepared and have the right relationship with Christ and find our peace and motives in Him, then when trouble comes, we are equipped to endure life’s troubles in peace. 

I surely was not equipped to endure the wild rapid ride of my crumbling marriage, then divorce, then the struggles of single-parenthood.  It made for a very depressing and frustrating time.  It wasn’t until I spent time in God’s Word and meditated on the promises that He has for me and for my son that I started to put my trust in him.  Am I prepared for troubles? Well, I would like to think that I am a lot closer to peace during trouble than I used to be.  Every day it is a commitment to spending time in prayer, reading God’s Word and keeping my mouth shut and my ears open long enough to hear what He has in store for me.   Many wonderful moments are experienced when I just listen. 

As this season marks the beginning of another year, let’s make 2013 be the year of preparation for what our megaphone will be broadcasting when trouble finds us.  Let us also be aware of what message we are currently sending through our life reactions.

________________________

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1: 2-4

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That time of the year again!

Status

So the papers are lying on the diningroom table, quietly mocking me! I taught my heart out this whole year and a quick glimpse told me that the learners either didn’t take anything in or didn’t study. I ‘hope’ it’s the latter! Otherwise I’m bound to consider a new occupation. I can see the ad in the newspaper already:” Midde-aged ex-teacher in search of a new job. Can read and write. Not good in arithmetic. Fairly computer literate. Fairly good with people, unless you are rude and obnoxious. Will teach manners and social boundaries even if not required. ” Wonder if I’ll get any responses? This time of the year can make or break the teacher in me. Stay tuned for exam hilarity…

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I didn’t die…

the first step to getting anywhere

If anyone was worried, I didn’t die. I haven’t been blogging since January, as I am re-evaluating the value of blogging. I love writing, but I have been feeling that I am only writing about myself and my activities. I love myself but I’m definitely not narcissistic to the extent that I believe people would find my everyday activities remotely interesting. So I am re-thinking what I want to achieve with my blog. So if you are following me, I will be doing some cosmetic surgery on the site soon, as well as writing about more than just my little corner of life.

Hope to start soon. Have a great day! Here by us it is wintery cold and a bleary sun is stroking the yellowed and reddened leaves on the trees…

I would really appreciate some input: Do you like my blogs? Why or why not? Do you have any suggestions for changes?

Lots of love

Hesta