Fynbos: Natural Vegetation in the Western Cape

The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of six in the world. It is the smallest and richest with over 9,000 species of plants, 6,200 of which are endemic (growing nowhere else in the world). The Fynbos only comprises 6% of Southern Africa yet it has half the species on the sub-continent. We visited two places the last couple weeks to learn about the fynbos: Helderberg Nature Reserve and Ouma Kruger’s garden! This amazing woman knows the latin name of each plant, its uses medicinal and otherwise, and any unique qualities of the species. I learned so much from her, and enjoyed her passion. Anyone can make something sound complicated, but it takes great skill to make the complicated simple! After the afternoon in her garden, drinking tea, I feel like I know enough to plant my own garden. The kids enjoyed the field trip and followed along, taking pictures of plants they liked and writing down the names to do a report on later. I couldn’t keep Etian out of the pond, catching tadpoles. I don’t believe he realized his family was even there.

The Helderberg Nature Reserve

360 different varieties of the Protea

Pincushion, one of our favorites

True to its name, this Peanut Butter Plant smells just like peanuts when you crush its leaves

<My favorite Cala Lilies grow WILD here



Lourensford Wine Estate

The stunning Helderberg Mountains serves as a backdrop to this vineyard established in 1700.


We actually came here for the coffee. Tasting the beans before we purchase by way of a complementary cappuccino? Yes, please! The Coffee Roasting Company at Lourensford Wine Estate has my permanent business! Did I mention they also make their own chocolate to complement their wine? I believe they have covered the three food groups…Coffee, Wine, and Chocolate. Right?!

Future Coffee Drinkers of South Africa. Do I get to count an outing to The Coffee Roasting Company as a homeschool field trip? The kids smiled politely for a picture but really chasing the peacocks was much more fun!


Field Trips in Africa

No time like the present to start learning our South African history and the kids heritage! We spent three days in Pretoria, the capital city of South Africa, and besides meeting MORE aunts, uncles, and cousins, we visited the historic Voortrekker Monument.

Voortrekker Monument

The Voortrekkers (Afrikaans and Dutch for pioneers, literally “those who pull ahead”, “fore-trekkers”) were emigrants during the 1830s and 1840s who left the Cape Colony (British at the time, but founded by the Dutch) moving into the interior of what is now South Africa. The Great Trek consisted of a number of mass movements under a number of different leaders including Louis Tregardt, Hendrik Potgieter, Sarel Cilliers, Pieter Uys, Gerrit Maritz, Piet Retief and Andries Pretorius. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voortrekkers)

The Voortrekkers made a now-famous vow to God: “We stand here before the Holy God of heaven and earth, to make a vow to Him that, if He will protect us and give our enemy into our hand, we shall keep this day and date every year as a day of thanksgiving like a sabbath, and that we shall erect a house to His honour wherever it should please Him, and that we will also tell our children that they should share in that with us in memory for future generations. For the honour of His name will be glorified by giving Him the fame and honour for the victory.”

These churches are easy to spot in towns throughout South Africa.

The Vow

We also enjoyed the interesting and beautiful botanical life at the Voortrekker Monument Gardens.

Swaardlily (Sword Lily)

“Epic” plant (unidentified as of yet! Can anyone help me here?)

Still searching for the name of this one, too

Bird of Paradise

Its quite fun to live overseas. But no squatty-pottys here!

Not a squatty potty

Finally, we visited Operation Mobilization’s new office building, The Link. AMAZING testimony of how OM came to acquire this beautiful building! Read about it here.


It was fun to see the building in real-life but even more fun to meet up with a couple special friends from our time in OM-past. I look forward to getting into the missions groove and finding out more about what is going on in the Kingdom of God around the world, especially the middle east and northern Africa. I know great things are happening in the midst of the dismal news reports we see.

Finally, what you all have been waiting for…the latest picture of sweet Evangeline! She is tasting an international world of foods this week: avocado, papaya, mielie pap (maize cereal), and boerwors (sort of like beef jerky) to help with the teething.



Actually, It is hard to argue with someone who looks so happy…

I have my creative husband to thank for this caption. This description fits him well! I still tease him that he cannot glare to save his life. We started packing our house today, preparing for the second out of three moves this year. We are still looking for a house to rent in CT, South Africa. Apparently the competition is fierce! The houses come on the market and within a week, they are taken by the best applicant.

Monday, at about 3 a.m., we leave for our roadtrip to the Midwest. My plan: we look out the window for an hour, listen to audiobooks for an hour, sing songs and play games for an hour, watch a movie for an hour, take a nap for an hour, stop and rest, and then do it all over again. We have about 17 hours of listening material and the kids are going to make Travel Journals along the way. So my biggest prayer request is that the hours will pass quickly and everyone will remain in good spirits. Especially mom and dad…

We look forward to spending the 4th of July with friends in Colorado, a huge Grim family reunion in Estes Park, special time with our church family in Missouri, an overnight with our fellow South Africans in Kansas City, driving to Mt. Rushmore, two nights with another special friend in Wyoming, then eventually making our way back to Washington.

Some highlights of the last couple months…

One of the best Saturdays ever

One of the best Saturdays ever

Chewelah Valley

Chewelah Valley

God's great camouflage...do you see the snake?

God’s great camouflage…do you see the snake?

Refueling for the hike

Refueling for the hike

One Room Schoolhouse in Newport, WA

One Room Schoolhouse in Newport, WA

Enjoying the Evergreen State

Enjoying the Evergreen State

Top of Quartzite

Top of Quartzite

Five months old and more beautiful everyday

Five months old and more beautiful everyday

Sharing the love of Star Wars with his baby sister

Sharing the love of Star Wars with his baby sister

Settling into Steven’s County

An early spring has lightly rested on us in Eastern Washington. Its beyond wonderful to rest and enjoy the beautiful mountains, pine needles and tall evergreen trees. I even fought my way into my running shoes this week and made it all of two miles. Part of me wants to just pick up 20 acres of this amazing mountainside and settle in here. But there is a restlessness to our life, a feeling that we don’t belong here. God is keeping the fire burning in us as we prepare to move overseas. Here are a few pictures of our month’s activities!

They LOVE Awana. There’s something for everyone, and my kids are learning the Word of God at a rate I’ve never seen. This is an unexpected blessing to our family.

No one can make her laugh like Hope can.

Little Eva…or Bluejay…Evangeline has a myriad of nicknames so far. We’ll see which one sticks.

Quilt my mom made for Hope, with one of her old shirts.

St. Patrick’s Day wreath. For the first time EVER I am having fun doing crafts with the kids! The messes used to stress me out too much. I guess it took 5 kids for me to quit caring if we paint the walls with glue and glitter.

Chloe before we bottle-fed the calves (thank you for the hats Pat Sherman!). Last week we got our kids dirty on a friend’s dairy farm. It was a great adventure! We had so much fun. This is what I love about homeschooling.

Hope, the only brave one. And yes, the kids did make the connection between mom’s nursing the baby and milking a cow! There have been some great conversations around our household lately…


Born just 12 hours ago

The Pantry. Toshelle is amazing! I could learn so much from this girl! She does it all…dairy farmer’s wife, canning, sprouting, grinding grain, yogurt, cheese-making, the whole bit.

Combating Negativity with A Thankful Heart

In keeping with the season of Thanksgiving, I am reminded of the power of gratitude. I frequently admire people who seem to walk through life with joy and thanksgiving naturally flowing from them…and then, more often than not, I learn this person has been through a personal tragedy or defeated overpowering obstacles. I believe we have the answer to one of the most common maladies of this day and age! Thankfulness is the answer to depression and anxiety (I am not referring to those clinically depressed, or suffering from anxiety/panic disorders…although I do believe this will improve those conditions greatly too!).

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

This The Weapon!

So when negative thoughts crowd your mind, instead of turning down that road to despair, drop to your knees or reach your hands up and begin to practice thanksgiving. Don’t be disingenuine about your difficulty, struggle, pain, or depression. But begin thanking God for what you have! I recently finished the biography of Joni Eareckson Tada. Now, I have been avoiding this book for years, simply because I knew enough of her story to understand I would be deeply convicted and challenged by it. I was right. When Joni was in the throngs of depression due to her paralysis, bitter and resentful, a friend reminded her of the truth. “I saw people at the long-term care center who were really bad off — blind, mute, deaf. Some even lost their minds. They have nothing left. But you have your mind, your voice, your eyes, and your ears. You have everything you need.”

Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things. And the God of peace will be with you.

Here is my gratitude list as I combat the enemy of my soul with a THANKFUL HEART.

1. A house of our own to live in while we spend time with my family in Washington State…thats just one block away from where my parents’ live! The kids can experience what its like to ‘go next-door to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.’

2. A breakthrough in my husband’s RSA passport status. We’ve been waiting for 13 months for renewal and have finally been approved for an emergency passport while they frantically dig through heaps of papers to find where his is misplaced (my theory :)).

3. A flexible, gracious employer who is willing to work with us through this time of transition, moving, and process of citizenship.

4. A healthy, kicking 29-week old baby and an uncomplicated pregnancy. An OB whom I love.

5. No debt.

6. A clean house. Even though our house hasn’t sold yet, with every showing, I get to come home to a sparkling, clutter-free home. If you know me at all, this would not be the case in any other situation!

7. An online homeschool group in the Western Cape, South Africa, where I am already making acquaintances and finding resources. I needed a starting point as we move to an entirely new part of the world and God has provided this amazing, like-minded group!

8. An great deal on plane tickets to Washington during the typically inflated-fares of the holiday season.

9. Wisdom as we make each decision towards moving overseas. The logistics involved are staggering and intimidating but God is directing our steps.

10. A homeschool curriculum I LOVE (Sonlight) that makes it possible for someone like me, not especially organized and easily overwhelmed, to home-educate 4 children. My children have already developed a foundation of missions with the biblical worldview Sonlight books provides.

11. Friends and men of faith, near and far away, who have spoken words of life and faith into me as we embark on this journey.

12. A powerful display of God’s providence as I met up with a missionary friend from years ago, at a missions’ conference where neither of us currently live.

13. A beautiful Midwest fall and coming Northwest Christmas (we want LOTS of snow!!) to add to my storehouse of precious memories.

14. A husband who listens intently to the Lord as he leads our family.

15. A growing church body, full of dear friends, that is able to send us out into the mission field.

16. Pumpkin Pie. 🙂

17. Health for our family, protection from sickness, disaster, and disease, refuge from the storms of life. Psalm 91.

18. The mercy and goodness of God. His kindness that led to my repentance. That his gifts and call are irrevocable. That he is faithful through our struggle against sin, in the process of us being conformed to the likeness of Christ.

19. A super-fun shopping date with my oldest daughter. I remember going on these with my mom, and they are some of my favorite memories. Now its my turn to create them with my daughters!

20. His JOY is my STRENGTH. For when I am weak, then I am strong in the Lord.



Making Progress?

I recruited my husband’s (and oldest daughter’s) help making a “Graciousness Chart” and wow! Its like an architectural grid! No cutesy flowers and colors like I would’ve done. I love it. This 30-Day Challenge has already prompted discussions about privacy issues, how we speak to adults, how we treat our elders, manners at meal fellowships (church events), and gratefulness. The kids are motivated and excited.

As a parent is it so difficult sometimes to train our kids in the multitude of skills and character traits they need for a life serving the Lord. This 30-Day Challenge in Graciousness gives us much-needed focus and also a measurable goal, something that is often lacking in parenting!

How are you doing? What areas of manners, politeness, and graciousness have come up in your family?

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