Popping in to say Hi

I’ve been quiet here. The second half of this year has been pretty full, even a bit stressful and as a family we’ve had to shift and reshuffle to adjust to yet another season.

Families move through seasons. It’s natural. Ours seem to change thick and fast; such are the dynamics of raising teens alongside toddlers, I think. It’s not all bad. We just need to regularly stop, catch our breath and regroup, lest we become overwhelmed.

My life was brought sharply into perspective a few weeks ago. Although Amié could have waited to write her matric next year, she wanted to get it over and done with and so, with an intense increase in pressure and workload, the preparations for exams began in August. It had been one of “those” days, ferrying her to and from flute exam rehearsals and tutoring sessions, in between supervising Jess’s schooling and music practice (for two music exams), trying to manage the demands of a busy household all the while wrangling two toddlers who seem to find new and creative ways to get up to mischief the moment my back is turned.

Amié had just finished her 4th tutoring session of the day and we were inching home in rush-hour traffic, admittedly with a stunning sunset to admire, courtesy of Johannesburg’s smog. Amié got her learners license a while back so I was talking her through lane-changing and following distance and Cael and Cadence were voicing their disapproval of yet another car-seat confinement, probably their 10th that day, from the back. I realised I was travelling in my own car as a passenger, with my eldest capably at the wheel beside me while my youngest wailed loudly behind me, wanting “drinkles” (she’s still nursing) and a nappy change.

In that moment I wondered if this was the sort of scenario playing through peoples minds when they questioned how sanely I had made the decision to have more children when, with our girls then aged 9 and 13, we could have been free, clear and done, our children adults and out of the home by the time we were 40?

I see their point.

But we’re having fun. Most car trips are more jovial, even exciting, as the very sight of an orange Putco bus ignites squeals of “LOOOOK!!!!! BUS!!!!” from our baby, and being stuck behind a cement truck or brick lorry is hardly a hardship, on the contrary, travelling in its wake at 20km/h gives us all the more time to admire it with our truck-loving boy! And it’s cool to have my daughter drive me around. And she thinks it’s cool to drive her siblings around. And it’s kind of neat to think that while one daughter finishes school, another will start potty training.

Some say it takes a village to raise a child; I have come to believe it takes a family to get a homeschooled teen through matric. Every one of us have played a role, in some way, every day. Some days have gone better than others, and with the end of the exam-road in our sights, I dare say we’ve all been on a learning curve, together, and it hasn’t been all academic.

So yes, it has been busy. Some days pass in a whirl, others drag, but none are dull. Amié has 4 more exams left and we’re talking through choices and decisions for next year, like will she live at home, will she continue piano lessons and how much paying work will she manage alongside her studies. Jess will start highschool. Boy will begin violin and Baby will join in almost all of the above, toddling in and out of rooms and activities as her interest leads. Andrew will hopefully grow his business and continue his degree. We hope the Lord will present more opportunities for us to serve and love others and trust our current work among the youth and young adults will continue to bear fruit.

So I don’t think life in the Timberlake home will be slowing down much. But that’s okay. It’s good work. The kind the leaves you exhausted but fulfilled. The best kind.

I love my family. I love the crazy age gaps. I love the journey.

It’s not about ME

 

“This isn’t about you.  And it’s not about what you do or do not like.  It’s about me.  Stop whining about the dishes and the laundry and the dust.  Quit worrying over tiny handprints on freshly washed windows.  It doesn’t matter if you enjoy every part of what I’ve asked you to do.  It matters only if you choose to proceed with a willing heart to do that which you’d rather not.  You were made for great things and serving me here, now, is only the beginning.  Just you wait until I show you what I have planned for you later!”

Read the rest of this post at Walking Redeemed.

Persevering toward results

Our children have never attended school. Our approach to education has mostly been informal. We believe in building solid language skills (reading, writing and speaking), proficiency in math to a minimum of Grade 10/O level standard and helping them learn how to learn. These skills combined with a strong (Biblical) work ethic and respect for authority are what we consider most important.

A change in pace

This year Amie embarked on formal study for the first time in her life, at the age of 16. She needs to complete 5 subjects over 2-3 years (by age 18) in order to qualify for a senior certificate which she will require to attend university (which she has decided she wants to do). She wants to only take 2 years to do this so that she can attend a year of Bible College before starting her degree. She is required to take English and another language (she chose Afrikaans) and has further taken history, maths and music. She desires to do an arts degree so a science isn’t necessary.

This is the first time she has needed to submit assignments to an outside authority and follow a structured curriculum. Besides maths and music, she has not formally studied the other subjects before (by means of a structured curriculum). There is very little input from me – she follows the curriculum, “attends” the weekly online tutoring sessions and submits her assignments under her own steam. She manages her own time with only seldom check-ins from me to find out what she is doing and, if it isn’t school work, to take a quick check that she is, in fact, on schedule.

Has it worked?

To date, her assignments have been returned with only positive feedback and good marks. Today her English tutor paid glowing compliments about her standard of work, diligence and ability. She even asked if Amie was considering tertiary study in English. Amie didn’t have the heart to reply that she really has little passion for the subject and is only taking it because she is required to!

We went into this year knowing it would be a test of what we have believed regarding education and would evaluate our approach in harsh, real terms. We have spent the past 15 years doing what we believed would equip our daughter with a good education. This year was the first step in setting her free to stretch her wings (and stretch our faith!) and, so far, we are glad with what we are seeing.

Of course, exams loom at the end of the year, and more next year and then ultimately she will face an acceptance to or be declined university entrance. We know there is still a long way to go.

But today when we were talking about her English tutors comments she said to me: “I bet it is because of all of those letters you made me write mom. Over and over until they were perfect; only then could I send them. And every email you checked. It’s also because I read so much.”

We fought over those letters she mentioned! And we fought about the books she chose that were thin on literary value. And we fought about the classics I encouraged her to try (which she now scours 2nd hand bookshops for). And we fought whenever she read something but couldn’t answer my probing questions on character, plot, lessons learnt from the story.

But today she credited all that with her ability to do well. She recognizes now why I pushed so hard. Not just in English either. The tears over the hours of music practice are another example. In fact, examples abound in almost every area of her life. I push her hard to be the best person she could possibly be. That’s my job.

Don’t Give Up!

Moms, don’t give up. Pressing our children in the right direction will reap results if we persevere. There are times I wonder if I’m making any real progress. Often times I worry that the days are passing by quickly, turning into weeks, months and years and I wonder if I’m doing enough.

Take heart, fellow mother. Keep up the hard work. Keep guiding your children, instilling the qualities you know to be right and true and necessary, gently but with determination. God honours and blesses our efforts. And in time, so will our children.

 

Amie writing while on a recent camping trip in the mountains

Amie writing while on a recent camping trip in the mountains

 

 

Motherhood is a calling

“The question here is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. Have you given your life to your children resentfully? Do you tally every thing you do for them like a loan shark tallies debts? Or do you give them life the way God gave it to us—freely?

It isn’t enough to pretend. You might fool a few people. That person in line at the store might believe you when you plaster on a fake smile, but your children won’t. They know exactly where they stand with you. They know the things that you rate above them. They know everything you resent and hold against them. They know that you faked a cheerful answer to that lady, only to whisper threats or bark at them in the car.

Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty.”

Read the full post here: Motherhood is a Calling at Desiring God Ministries.