Friday, December 25, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Haystacks for dinner

Yesterday we enjoyed haystacks for dinner. This is a simple meal of corn chips topped with a bean and tomato mix plus cheese, sour cream, and whatever fresh or canned veggies you want! I'm always looking for meals that can use a variety of garden produce, and this is one. Yesterday we enjoyed fresh lettuce, rocket, and grated carrot from our garden. Elnathan ate some homegrown turnip (frozen prior), plus some pumpkin and avacado. I love meals like haystacks for Sundays as they don't take long to prepare. Sunday is my official rest day, so I don't like to spend it doing lots of cooking.

Another reasonably quick meal we've discovered recently is homemade whole wheat tortillas. These are much cheaper than the store bought variety, and taste yummy! Like haystacks, you can use lots of garden vegetables on them. I think these may well become a summer staple at our home. It is also great to use beans on tortillas and haystacks as they are a frugal and earth friendly option. We're blessed that we happen to love beans!

Here are a few extra photos of our boy . . .

Natey loves to sit by himself, but occasionally falls over so we still put a cushion behind him.


He pushes himself right up with his arms when we put him onto his tummy, but doesn't roll yet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday at the Drews

Sunday at the Drew Patch has been happy and relaxing for the most part!

Elnathan had a ride on his Daddy's shoulders. 

Dave enjoyed one of his favourite activities, which is to water and observe the garden.


On the 20th of last month, the corn was tiny in comparison to what it is now . . .

After observing the growth in the corn, Elnathan turned his mind and hands to other matters . . . 

He has become quite the mango fan, and can suck a lot of fruit through his mesh feeder.

He can also hold his own cup! All these things seem remarkable to his parents as it seems like only a short while ago that he couldn't even hold his head steady!

This must be one of the happiest seasons of our lives, as we enjoy the smiles of our little person.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Advent!

Dave and I can hardly wait to put up our Christmas tree each year! This year we put it up on on November 29th, four Sundays before Christmas. This is the first Sunday of Advent.

It was more fun than ever because we had a tiny person to do it with! Elnathan tried to grab everything and put it into his mouth.  Having a tiny baby gives us an extra opportunity to contemplate the miracle of God becoming man. Isn't it wonderful that God was faithful to provide us with a Saviour from our sins so that we can have eternal life! We sent some of these pictures and more to relatives overseas today, and hope they take some of our joy in Christ with them. I've also been scrapbooking our Christmas tree decorating this afternoon - fun!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lessons from Lorraine!

My mother Lorraine has written a beautiful post for my new blog, Home Based Education, titled Quietness of Mind and Singleness of Purpose. What a great privilege it is to receive godly advice from someone who has walked this road before. This is one of my main purposes in starting the new blog, to share what I am learning from others as I seek to create a joyful learning environment at home. I am happy that due to starting this blog, I've been able to gain some extra advice from Mum. It is wonderful to have her thoughts in written form to refer back to and think about more.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pilgrim Hill

This place was built
by the Lord of the Hill
For the relief and security 
of Pilgrims

Our friends the Baehrs are beginning a hospitality ministry in the Huon Valley called Pilgrim Hill. You can read a little more about it on Mikey Lynch's Christian Reflections blog.

A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of going up to Pilgrim Hill for a picnic. There are no buildings on the hill as yet, but it is a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon in good company.

Dave and Elnathan enjoyed father and son time. Elnathan looks very Australian in this hat, but it is actually a South African hat we bought at Stellenbosch last year!

Later in the afternoon we went for a walk up the hill. We thought Elnathan might sleep, but his eyes were wide open!


Then we enjoyed sitting together and having a family picture taken. This is one of my favourite family pictures so far!

An outdoorsy kinda guy

Elnathan loves to be outside. When he is grumpy indoors, his mood is often transformed when he is placed on a blanket on the grass. He is much happier having tummy time or lying on his back outdoors than he is indoors, and is not as insistent upon being sat up to look at everything! He is quite happy to try to grab at some grass and stuff it in his mouth. We think a few seeds may have been ingested in the process, but that is OK.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dave's new car

On the weekend Dave purchased a new car, a 2006 model Mazda 6.

It was an exciting day, and the weather was perfect for a first drive! It felt unreal to have such a nice car all of our very own!

It is certainly an upgrade from our very reliable but less than exciting 1994 Ford Laser.

If anyone is in the market for one of these, I recommend buying ours - I would have stayed with it but my very patient husband had waited long enough for his newer car!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

I'm excited to be able to participate in the Passionate Homemaking Crockpot Carnival! We enjoy this Moroccan Red Lentil soup at our house. Dave is not generally a great fan of soup, but this one is a winner with him. It is filling and very nutritious, full of cheap protein!

2 tbs olive oil
2 large onions
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground tumeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
7 cups vegetable stock
1 can (about 20 ounces or 440 grams, it doesn't really matter) crushed tomatoes
2 cups dried red lentils, washed and rinsed
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbs fresh parsley (or another fresh herb)
1 tbs chopped fresh cilantro (again, substituting is fine)

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook onions until tender, add garlic and spices (except pepper flakes). Place with hot stock, tomatoes and lentils in the slow cooker. Cook for 4 - 5 hours on high, or 8 to 10 hours on low, until the lentils are tender.

Add the final four ingredients and cook on high for 10 minutes.

Eat! Yum, yum -  and some left over to freeze!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Home Based Education

I have been thinking about creating a new blog about education for a couple of months now. I've gone backwards and forwards as to whether or not this was a good idea. Thinking about Elnathan's future education is important to me right now. I want to use some of the "extra" time I have to be thinking about how to create a positive learning environment for him here at home. I hope that this new blog will not only be a useful way to document that journey for our purposes, but will also be a help to others who are on the same path. I believe that nearly all  parents are concerned about the education of their children, so this is not just for those of us who are hoping to homeschool. I hope that it will be of use also to every parent who wants to create a home that is a place of joyful learning! As well as posting about our journey, I'm planning to ask people with experience in home education to write for me or to be interviewed.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Bay Christian Church sermons

I've been wanting to share our church's sermon archive with you for a while. We attend Bay Christian Church which is just 5 minutes drive from our home. We have particularly benefited from two recent talks, "A prayer for experience" and "Kingdom prayer". These are both available on the Bible talks page. The sermon "A prayer for experience" focuses on the need to experience God's love. Last week we found the sermon "Whose Kingdom - Mine or Yours" thought provoking, and we discussed the need to stand guard against all kinds of greed. Dave will be preaching on the parable of the good Samaritan tomorrow, and we've been working hard to prepare!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Watering with Daddy

I've finally cleared my iPhoto sufficiently to be able to use it at a reasonable pace! To celebrate, I am posting these cute pics of Elnathan and Dave watering the garden.

We are loving our garden right now. We have planted beans, corn, zucchini, tomatoes, and lots more! These pictures were taken last month and it is amazing to see how much things have grown even since that time. On warm days, the little plants seem to grow before our eyes!

Dave looks forward to getting home from work to greet his wife, greet his baby, and thirdly head straight out to the garden!

Elnathan also seems to enjoy the outdoors. In the last couple of days I've placed him in his rocker in the shade of the cabbages, and he sits there contentedly while I work. Pulling off bits of cabbage leaf and trying to eat them is a favourite occupation!

When it comes to photo storage, do any of you know of a good program that can be downloaded for free? If so, I'd love to hear your recommendations. My iPhoto is quite limited, and I'd love a program that stores many photos and allows you to edit them (for example, removing red eye).

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Kaz Cooke's Kid-wrangling is wrong about cloth nappies

Kid-wrangling is a popular book in Australia. I'm sure its lighthearted look at parenting is a pleasant relief from some of the more intense parenting materials out there. In between the amusement, Kaz is attempting to provide real information for parents. Much of it is probably sound and helpful. When it comes to cloth nappies, though, Kaz is just wrong. Before I start on why, I need to state my agreement with Kid-wrangling that cloth nappy advocates shouldn't go around making judgmental statements about those who use disposables. That being said, advocates of disposables need to do their homework before saying anything about cloth.

 I've just put my nappies on the line . . .

and it was way easier than Kaz would have us believe. We've used cloth nappies solely for four and a half months of Elnathan's life so far (excluding our overseas trip and his first two weeks). Disposables have their place, but good cloth nappies are really not that bad.

Kaz's comments are in italics. My responses follow.

They require far more labour.
If you use pocket nappies like Bumgenius it is very quick and easy. When we were in South Africa we used three different types of Huggies nappies, all with the same result: serious poo leaks that required clothing changes every time. Bumgenius have much better containment and reduce work in this way. Personally, I'd rather change a nappy than a whole outfit.

Soaking and washing them is an unpleasant, tedious task
Many modern cloth nappies don't need soaking. You just have to rinse off any poo at the time of changing the nappy, pop the nappy in the bucket, then dump them all in the washing machine when you feel in danger of running out of them.

They need to be washed with very hefty antibacterial chemical washing powders and in very hot water, and if poo stained they need savage bleaching products to look non-skid marked.
Huh? We don't own any of these products, and our nappies look OK. We rarely wash in hot water, either (shock, horror), and our baby's bot looks just fine.

It's hard to cope unless you have a whizzbang washing machine and dryer.
Our washing machine is fantastic (a Fisher & Paykel Intuitive Eco), but we don't own a dryer. We found it easy to get our nappies dry throughout the wettest Tasmanian winter for fifty years.

Cloth nappies are slightly trickier to fasten.
Only if you use traditional cloth squares! Bumgenius and some other pocket nappies are as easy as disposables.

You'll need:

about 30 to 35 nappies
try 20, I'm sure you'll be fine

about 6 - 8 plastic overpants
Yes, if you use nappies that need them. Pocket nappies like the marvelous Bumgenius don't.

Yes, if you use nappies that need them!

Rubber gloves
Why? Baby poo is not scary.

2 big nappy-soaking buckets with close-fitting lids
Try one, it is enough as long as you're not planning to soak your nappies (an unnecessary and annoying process).

bleach and antibacterial soaking powder
What are those things? We don't own them. The sun does the job.

a washing machine with a hot function
Handy but not strictly necessary, as long as you live in a climate where they'll get some sun.

antibacterial washing powder
Huh? We've purchased one box of ecostore powder and it is still going. With Bumgenius you are specifically required to use environmentally friendly detergent that doesn't contain enzymes, etc, and to use it very sparingly. If you don't, you're no longer eligible for the one year guarantee.

lots of clothes-line space and fine weather or a big clothes dryer
Neither are necessary. You can dry them inside if the weather is yuck. This is especially true of traditional cloth nappies, as they are thin cotton squares and dry quickly.

When I read Kaz's comments, I'm not surprised so few people use cloth. If I thought it would be like that, I probably wouldn't either. Kaz argues that using cloth is not necessarily an environmental improvement. If they are used in the way she describes, I agree. What many people forget is that you don't have to do cloth in the traditional way. Hey, it is 2009!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I chose South Africa

For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Ruth 1:16, The Bible

I've been asked many times, "Do you think you could live in South Africa?". This is a question I attempted to answer long before anyone started to ask me. My personal perspective is that you shouldn't marry someone if you are not willing to live in their country. This is why I chose to visit South Africa before getting engaged (you can read about that trip in the travel section of my previous blog). For me, choosing Dave was choosing South Africa.

Since making that choice, I've had many conversations with ex-pats here in Australia. These people have left much that they love in South Africa due to things they find frightening and frustrating. This has led me to feel challenged about my own choice. At times I've felt judgmental and angry with ex-pats. I now see this as a result of insecurity about our own choice to remain open to living there. I now feel secure in the fact that God has every person on a different journey. He is working different things in each family, and that is OK!

I can't know what it would be like for us to live in South Africa - no one can unless they do it! I do know that I have many limitations that could make it hard. These include only speaking one language, being a cautious driver, and seemingly having a learning disability related to keys and locking up houses! I have always lived in Tasmania near my family.

Whether we live in South Africa or not, I've already lived out some of the consequences of my choice to marry someone who comes from another continent. We've spent two months in South Africa since our first trip together in January 2007, on two separate trips. We've together pursued the adventure of taking a tiny baby overseas. I've seen townships, tribal lands, bullet laden security guards, spectacular scenery, and lots of elephants! Friendships have multiplied.

More than that, the problems and joys of South Africa have captured my heart in ways I never expected when I said "yes" to my husband. I've found that I love the place, yet wondered if I am crazy for not dismissing it as a basket case. I want our son to somehow be both South African and Australian, to remain connected to both places, but wonder if it will work out like that. I've felt smidgen of the despair of yet another political disappointment, and a touch of the fear of crime that many cite as the reason for their departure from the country. We've longed to do more for those who are suffering, particularly orphans, but found the obstacles to this discouraging.

We are content in Australia, but remain willing to trade it in for a more unpredictable continent. God will be working his purposes in us wherever we go. Where we are physically is not as important as the relationship we have with God. Wherever we are there are opportunities and difficulties that we are called to make the most of, with God's guidance. God is at work in South Africa, and it is exciting to remain open to the possibility that he may have a role for us there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Elnathan's new seat

Elnathan is six months old next week. He now enjoys trying to sit up to play, but doesn't have the balance to sit alone yet. Today I went to mother's group and saw this handy solution - the washing basket seat! Supervision is required, as unbalanced little ones can end up slumped against the sides. Some padding would also help, perhaps a blanket or quilt to soften the sides of the basket. My friend at mother's group had placed a doona over the basket for padding.

Respecting God's creation

Lindsay has written an inspiring post about caring for the environment - Free to Be Green. I love her point that respecting God's creation is demonstrating respect for God himself.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Great idea for family Bible time

It was inspiring to read one woman's account of how she included Bible reading in her day with three small children. I love reading about little ones learning from the plain old Bible - no simplification and no pictures - Wow! God's word is powerful, even for preschoolers.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Turning the tide against euthanasia

I recently watched Turning the Tide, a documentary about euthanasia.

I appreciated the interviews with people who were disabled, suffering from chronic pain, or caring for vulnerable people. The documentary presented the classic arguments against euthanasia, including the idea that we need to help people to feel they have dignity and worth. After watching this, I felt that we need to do more for those who are living in aged care facilities. Many of these people feel they do not have worth because they do not enjoy caring relationships.

Occasionally, not often enough, I go to visit my step grandmother in a home for elderly and disabled people about 20 minutes from where we live. She seems to enjoy a good life there despite her pain. She has lots of friends, a lovely room, and caring staff. On my last two trips I've also taken the time to visit a man from our church who suffers from MS.

Here Elnathan is pictured with his step great-grandma. Babies are a wonderful asset when visiting an aged care hostel! Maybe we can contribute a small amount toward valuing those members of our society who are vulnerable. The best argument against euthanasia is suffering people who are loved, content, and cared for in their pain.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A lovely testimony

I enjoyed re-reading a lovely testimony of how one woman gained A New Heart for Homemaking.

Those who are rich

Do you ever think of yourself as rich? If you are like most Australians, I doubt it. We have grown to think of the rich as those who have million dollar houses, boats, and a couple of European cars sitting in the driveway.

The Bible encourages us to think differently. My McArthur Study Bible defines "rich" as those who have more than they need to live upon. If you are reading this on a computer right now, chances are that you are rich according to this definition. What do we need in order to live? Basic food, a few pieces of clothing, and shelter. So 1 Timothy 6:17 - 19 applies to us:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.

In the second week of our recent trip to South Africa, I felt an immense conflict in myself about how rich I was and how little I did in this world. I was so obviously rich in a place where many are obviously poor, and it seemed like the only people I ever talked with were equally rich . . . what did this mean for who I was and my place in the world?

Then God comforted me. He reminded me that God had given me these "things" that make me rich. He had given us the money to not only own a car but also hire one, to not only own a home in Tasmania but also hire lovely places to stay in South Africa. Yes, this was luxury. Yes, God had given it. Given it to enjoy, not to feel guilty about.

I don't understand why there is so much inequality in this world. The Bible says that God decides who will be rich and poor (see 1 Samuel 2). I don't understand why he doesn't even things out more! However, it is not my job to question God. It is my job to be grateful and obey. That means being ready and willing to give, and actively pursuing a lifestyle of good works. This is basic to my place in the world as one of those who are rich.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The reversal of hope

Today I came across another prayer that reminds us of why God sometimes does not answer our prayers in the way we hope. Read Most Richly Blessed and be reminded of God's priorities for our lives and our hopes. 

Monday, September 28, 2009

Single minded desire for God's glory

This prayer from Blaise Pascal is an encouragement to desire God's glory above our own comfort.

Take from me, Lord, that self-pity which love of myself so readily produces, and fromt he frustration of not succeeding in the world as I would naturally desire, for these have no regard for your glory. Rather, create in me a sorrow that is conformable to your own . . . Let me no longer wish for health or life, but to spend it and end it for you, with you, and in you. I pray neither for health or sickness, life nor death. Rather I pray that you will dispose of my health, my sickness, my life, and my death, as for your glory, for my salvation, for the usefulness to your church and your saints, among whom I hope to be numbered. You alone know what is expedient for me . . . Conform my will to yours . . . May I equally adore whatever proceeds from you.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Precious days with Gramps and Gran

  Apologies for the bizarre picture formatting - I'm still getting the hang of blogger's new features!

Gran plays the piano beautifully and Elnathan enjoyed listening.

Gran and Gramps were delighted to spend some time with their precious first grandson.

We were sorry to have to fly away, knowing that they would not see Natey for a long time. However, we were also very grateful to have had the opportunity to introduce him to them.

Girltalk hospitality series

Girltalk is running a great series at the moment on hospitality. I've found this encouraging, and I hope you will as well!

Also check out Deb's post thoughts on a rainy day for a quote that points out the connection between hospitality and truly loving people.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our second wedding anniversary

We spent our second wedding anniversary in South Africa, as we did our first! We enjoyed a lovely lunch with Dave's parents Will and Di, and then headed into Durban to spend the evening with our friend Sue. Sue traveled all the way from South Africa to attend our wedding in 2007. How wonderful it was to have a little baby to celebrate with this year! We still look at him sometimes and marvel that he is real! It is a precious thing to love one another, and for that love to result in a little person who is a delight to us both.

Natey! Look at the animals!

We were blessed to spend a week at Kruger National Park while in South Africa.

These photos were taken at Letaba camp during our drive out of Kruger Park. The park is large and it takes hours just to drive out of it from Olifants camp where we stayed.

"Mum, is that a bushbuck?"

Elnathan was a good traveller during our game drives, but seemed just as interested in his hands as in the animals! We would be like "look Natey, a water buck!" and he would coo and put his hand in front of his face. Of course, he'd only just discovered his hands existed so it is understandable that he didn't realise they were of less interest than elephants.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

God is at work in Zimbabwe

During our trip to South Africa it was encouraging to speak with a pastor who has been involved with taking food over the border to Zimbabwe. We also spoke with a Zimbabwean refugee who said things were improving somewhat and he hopes to go home in the near future. 

A friend recently sent me a link to the article "God is Working!" about the way some Christians are responding in faith to the difficulties in Zimbabwe. We can learn much from Christians who face extreme hardship. 

I love this quote:

"Optimism is being able to acknowledge brutal realities and to paint an even greater reality." 

Christians in Africa need that type of optimism! Dave and I hope to have this type of attitude toward South Africa's "brutal realities". Yes, the crime and poverty and corruption (and really bad driving!) are real. Yes, God is real too and we have hope that the church will thrive and do great things in the midst of suffering. The kingdom of God is the "greater reality".

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to blogging

As you can see, I didn't have a chance to blog during our month in South Africa! When there were gaps in our schedule I was often forced to be in bed resting as I had some severe back problems while away. We have been home for a week. Now that I've caught up on personal emails, sorted our mail stack, begun to make inroads into the mess, and feel better in terms of my back, I feel free to begin blogging again.

While on the topic of blogging, why not read Stacy's article Tips for Cutting Back on the Internet. When I go away for a month like this I'm reminded that it is possible to live without the Internet, and I may not even be poorer for it! Having said that, I still enjoy reading others' blogs and posting on mine - the Internet just has to be kept way down on the priority list where it belongs.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Goodbye for now!

Next Tuesday the three Drews will land in Johannesburg, South Africa. I don't expect to have time to blog next week (since most of Monday and Tuesday will be spent on planes)!

We look forward to introducing our little man to his family and his many friends in South Africa. 

I hope to drop by my blog with a few updates while away, but I'm not sure if it will happen! We will be back in Tasmania on August 31.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sick of it all?

If you're anything like me, you sometimes get sick of trials. I find myself thinking "I'm tired of this", "I can't do this", "I'm sick of this and I don't want to do it anymore". Often these thoughts come in the context of ordinary duties of life, difficulties and differences between people, and various forms of physical suffering. Today I opened my Bible to a passage that seemed just right for tackling this pattern of thinking.

My brethren count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

I love the way the NKJV says you "fall into" trials. It often feels like that - you're going along OK, and then all of a sudden hard things just happen. When they happen, God tells us we can count it joy rather than resenting it. I've made these verses a memory project for today!

House keeping for the glory of God

I have recently realised how easy it is to place keeping house above loving people. I am not implying that having a clean house and loving those who live in it are necessarily in conflict! However, I have some serious physical limitations due to a back injury and sometimes I just don't have the strength to do all I want in my home. Recently I've found it easy to resent the mess that people inevitably create. When I do this I'm forgetting that my home and everything in it are to serve people. Nothing in my home matters eternally except the people who walk through its doors. If welcoming and loving people means that at times my house is not even the slightest bit neat, that should be OK. Often, I want my house to be neat and clean because I like it that way. My motive is self, not the glory of God or the good of other people. In the context of this, I've appreciated revisiting Lindsay's blog post Serving vs. Enjoying Our Families. As Christian wives, mothers and homemakers our most important work is to create and maintain loving, joyful and vibrant relationships with our families and our God, and from that place to reach out into our churches and communities. When we do prioritise these things, and use our homes to serve and enjoy people, our  house keeping can glorify God.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate

Have you noticed that it is the so called "minor" sins that cause the most unhappiness and tension in your life? I have. My anger, discontentment, frustration, anxiety, pride etc. lead to countless unhappy moments (in my life and the lives of others) that need never occur if I learn to conquer these sins. They stop me from loving others, and God, as I should. Respectable Sins looks at these sins (and many others) in the light of the Bible and the gospel. It is the continuing presence of these types of sins in my life that continually reminds me of my need for Jesus. Yes, I'm still a sinner and I can't change on my own! I need God's help, and continually need the forgiveness of sin that only comes through Jesus. I am only half way through this book, but already want to recommend it! You can read a review at Ligonier Ministries.