He sings…

 

pexels-photo-586415.jpegI recently came across this powerful quote by Oswald Chambers, which I have held onto over the past three weeks.  The quote is this:

“He does not give us overcoming life.

He gives us life to overcome.”

 Two of the past three weeks have been spent at the Hillcrest Hospital.  Our two-year-old Layah had viral meningitis, and last week Mila, who is six years old, was in hospital with a bacterial infection known as “chlamydia pneumonia”.  Please don’t be alarmed.  This form of pneumonia is by no means linked to the sexually transmitted disease.  Please don’t go and google this either…  I warned you. 

Anyway, Dylan has been sick for over a month and I was then bitten by a spider last week! But, the Cherry on the top, is that little Samuel has an enormous red boil… on his little four year old BUM!

Ok, I am aware that this was a complete “overshare”.  Sorry Mila and Samuel, hopefully they will never find out that I shared this information.  But the honest truth is that I have been going through a winter season- a season of stretching, a season of warfare against the enemy, a season of learning to overcome.

I was asked to speak at a woman’s conference at Rec Road Church in Toti on Saturday and as a result of the place I have been in lately, I prepared a message for these women that was more of a call for us to be strong, resilient “Warrior Women”.  I envisioned sharing about how we are called to grip tightly onto the sword of the spirit and thrust the word of God against the onslaught of the enemy, who the bible says is “like a thief that comes to rob, steel kill and destroy, a roaring Lion who constantly seeks whom he will devour.”

But on Friday evening, the first night of the conference, something incredible happened during our worship.  As we repeatedly sang about the “Beautiful Name of Jesus,” I realised that as our praises rose, something powerful was happening in the heavenly realm.

It became so clear to me that as we were singing about His Beautiful Name, He began to respond with songs about ours…

 In Zephaniah 3:17 it says this…
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

On Friday night, as our voices merged with the voices of angels, declaring the magnificent beauty of our Jesus’ name, He responded with songs of delight.  Songs that echoed each one of our names.   Our Mighty Warrior triumphed our battles as He sung our names repeatedly.  He sang our names and rejoiced in the love we poured out to Him.  The Lord was pleased with His daughters, His chosen, beautiful ones.

Then as I drove home this scripture from Song of Songs 4:7 began to resound in my head.  The scripture reads:

“All beautiful you are my love, there is no flaw in you.”

As my Warrior King sang my name on Friday night, He sang the names of every woman in that room.  He sang songs of approval, songs calling us to more. He sang songs of destiny, songs of deliverance. He sang the words “all beautiful you are my darling, there is NO Flaw you.”

And so my message to these ladies changed completely. I sat up until 2am on Friday night, preparing a new message, a word derived from the song that I believe our Father sings over every one of us.  The song He is singing, day after day, month after month, year after year, struggle after struggle, victory after victory.

I have not written a blog post for over a year now, but as this revelation burned on my heart, I felt very strongly that this was something I needed to share.  I really believe that God wants us to become aware of the incredible depths of His love that make up the lyrics of His songs which He is singing over you and me.

I believe there are many types of songs that God sings over us, but there are three that I think are important for us to be aware of right now. 

He sings songs of approval

He sings your name

He sings songs that commission

  1. He sings songs of approval…

In John 15: 16 it says: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

I believe that the song on Gods heart for you at the moment is a song of approval.  So often we are driven by an unspoken need for the approval of man. Instagram is testament to this vain pursuit.  Farcical lives portrayed on the screen of a mobile device, lives that hanker after comments and likes that are no reflection of authenticity.  Man’s approval is a lie and cannot and will not ever sustain the soul. 

Social media aside, what about the way we were brought up?  What about the approval we sought to receive from our parents and teachers that altered the career decisions we made?  What about the approval you long for from your spouse, your children, your employers, your friends?  The approval of man is a vain pursuit.

God has a master plan for our lives and as we “double-tap” OUT of the need for human acceptance and stay still for a moment to hear the sound that resounds from heaven, you will hear the lyrics of a song He sings that say, “you are enough”. 

I remember hearing a story by Kayle Mumby about when he went into nature to wait on and hear God.  God spoke to Kayle about the call on his life and was beckoning him to make a commitment to a life of uncomfortable sacrifice, specifically when it came to his incredible prophetic gift.  Kayle believed God say to him that He would confirm His words to Kayle “like no man ever could”.  At that moment, an enormous owl flew out of nowhere and perched itself on Kayle’s head.  He completely freaked out and eventually the owl flew off. 

The next day, Kayle was speaking to a friend and he relayed the story.  In complete awe, the friend went silent and then began to explain to Kayle how his dad, a pastor at their church, had been preparing to speak that Sunday on how the owl is a sign of the next generation of prophets.

I believe God approves of us and that although we may not all have an angelic or owl encounter, God wants us to listen to the sound of heaven that resounds with the words “I have chosen you, you are enough”.  Press into God and be bold enough to ask him to give you an assurance of His approval through His word, through signs, wonders and spiritual gifts. 

In Galatians, it speaks about how our Faith is credited to us as righteousness, and so we have to believe that God approves of us, even when we don’t approve of ourselves. The reality is that God doesn’t need us to approve of ourselves in order for Him to approve of us.  We don’t influence God’s approval of us.  Your negative self-esteem does not stop Him approving.

But if you want change to happen and you desire to walk into the fullness of what God has called you to, your approval of yourself needs to align with His.  You need to see yourself the way He sees you. 

“All beautiful you are my darling, there is no flaw in you.”

He sings2. He sings your name…

I also believe that God sings your name, in Isaiah 45:2-3 it says:

“He will give you treasures hidden in the darkness- secret riches. He will do this so you may know that He is the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”

When I was pregnant with Layah, before I knew that she was a girl, I prayed for God to tell me exactly what her name ought to be. I knew that He had her destiny marked out for her and that His plans for her would be far greater than what I could ever begin to imagine. Therefore, I did not want us to be the ones to name her. Dylan and I had no name, but we knew Her creator God had one. I was pondering this in the shower one evening and in my mind, I pictured the word “Layah” (I saw this exact spelling) and was intrigued, as I had never seen or heard this name before. I launched out of the shower, simultaneously grabbing my towel and phone so that I could Google the meaning of the name. The name meant “the first flowers of spring”. What was even more awesome was that the very next day was the 1st of September, the day that marks the beginning of Spring. My heart leapt with excitement, I was convinced I was pregnant with a girl. We discovered a few weeks later that she was a girl and so she was immediately named “Layah Joy”.

When Layah was born a friend of my mom’s told me that the ALMOND TREE in the Bible would always produce “the first flowers of spring”. The almond tree produces magnificent blossoms in winter, just before Spring comes and the leaves form. The flowers are white with a delicate pink tinge, soft and fragrant, they break through the bark and cut through a thick wooded seal. In the face of adversity, they break barriers, they push through… they bloom. When I think of this picture I smile, as only an awe-inspiring God, who formed this child in my womb and dreamed about how He wanted her character to be, before time began, knew that she would need to be a boundary breaker! And she is just that… even at the tender age of 2! She is our fire 🔥, our strong-willed child, our fierce one that puts the little boys to shame. She is called to be a flower that breaks through the bark of this world and blooms in a way that is tender, soft and graceful yet undeniably strong.

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God knows your name.

God sings your name.

God loves your name.

Do you know the meaning of your name?

If the meaning of your name is not a positive meaning, then don’t you worry… your name is not yours anyway. You see, if you have given your life to Jesus He adopts you as His own.  You belong to Him and therefore you are given a new name.  That name is “Christian” which means: “Little Christ”, “anointed one”.  Your name is His name.  His name is yours.  Your name is a beautiful name, there is no flaw in it.

3. He sings songs that commission…

I believe that God sings songs that commission us. In Isaiah 42:6-7 he says:

“I am the LORD; I have called youb in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.

As you close your eyes, hear the sound of heaven erupt as the Father sings songs that call and commission you to a life that is beyond yourself.  To a life that sings songs of deliverance over the depressed. To a life that shines bright as it sings of freedom-  not only personal freedom but freedom for the people you will set free as you walk in forgiveness. It is time to join with heaven and sing songs of deliverance over those that are unaware of the song God is singing over them.

It is time to sing songs on behalf of those that have lost their voices or who have not yet found them.  For the orphans, little children, the destitute, the broken.  May your life song respond to the song of God that declares that “there is no flaw in you” and commissions to catch the wind of his Holy Spirit and drive freedom and breakthrough for others. 

You may be full of flaws, riddled with self-esteem issues as a result of past hurts and lies believed by the enemy?  Maybe your emotional state is like the Cherry family’s past physical state?  Or maybe you are addicted to the dopamine high of social media, on a permanent Instagram search for mans approval?  Maybe it isn’t Instagram, maybe it’s the lengths you will go to be noticed by a man, or a woman, or your boss?  Maybe you have allowed self-hate or even pride to seep in like a meningeal virus or a chlamydia pneumonia?  Or you are holding onto offence; offences that are sitting like a boil on your bum and it’s hard to sit.

No matter what the state of your life and heart is today, God does not look at your mess. Your sickness. Your boils.  When he looks on you he sees the sacrifice of Jesus and His blood shed on the cross to cleanse us from the mess.  He sees the finished work of Jesus Christ that makes you pure and blameless, flawless and beautiful, before the lover of your soul.

Song of Songs 4: 9 & 10 go onto say the following…

9You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride;
you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes.
10How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride!

 

Why I chose no drugs in childbirth

225164_10150178607916891_2588327_nIn response to my previous blog post, a good friend of mine, who is an anaesthetist, asked what my reason behind not taking pain medication or having an epidural when giving birth was?

I have nothing against epidurals at all and in fact with Mila I asked for one.

What happened was, it failed dismally. It only worked on one half of my body and so I was left in agony, pinned to a bed, feeling as if I was being stabbed in the side. I had no ability to stand or control my pain as the midwife kept rolling me from side to side (whilst bringing me gas).  I remember looking at her with a venomous eye and saying, “will I be paying half price for this epidural, or the full price?”

After hours of pain the irritable anesthetist was then called back just before it was time for me to push.  He dosed me with so much anesthetic that when I did push… I couldn’t.  I felt as if I was pushing my eyes out of their sockets and my brain through the top of my head.  My floppy legs felt separated from my body and I had no control. I felt as if the epidural prolonged my labour (labour was 27 hours in total) and after the birth I had to wait most of day with a catheter attached before I could get up and walk.

This experience was what gave me a desire to try it without and to explore the more natural route.  I figured, if I had control over my pain and could walk and breath through contractions then it would be far better… and it was!  Not only that, I believe that the prolonging of the labour as a result of the epidural had a negative affect on Mila at birth as she was completely exhausted and therefore limp when she came out.  The doctor’s had to suction her nose and rub her ferociously in order to get her to cry.

With Sam I chose to go without an epidural and it was quick and seamless. Yes of coarse it was painful, but not nearly as painful as it was when is was localised to one half of me. I also knew that I had to control myself.  I didn’t want to complain or scream through the pain as I had chosen to go without the drugs- it was a decision I had made.  Screaming would ruin the experience for everyone around me and it would be a sign of me loosing control.  As soon as I had given birth, I held and breastfed Samuel for 2 hours with skin to skin contact and then got up and helped Dylan give him his first bath.

So to answer my friends question- I wouldn’t want to go the epidural route again.  The pain of the epidural was far worse than going without it and having control over my body and mind is far more appealing.  There was a sense of peace and calm that came over me as I contrmplated the fact that God made us to give birth this way. Also, if all of our mothers did it in a self- controlled manner then so can I.

My friend said something interesting and that is that she gets the feeling from some women, that their choice to go without pain medication is more of an emotional choice- where they almost want to be seen as a hero (and so they tell everyone and anyone repeatedly that they had no epidural.)  Perhaps someone in their life had placed this expectation on them, that in order to truly be a woman and “earn your motherhood stripes” as it were, they must go the 100% natural route?  Perhaps this is true for some? Who cares anyway?

There are others, who favour the natural route and would prefer to control the pain as apposed to not having control.  I am also lead to believe that epidurals can slow the process down and I really want nothing more than for it to go quickly for the sake of me and the baby.

There is so much pressure or  “mommy guilt” placed on women these days.  An unspoken pressure for one to do things a certain way, right from conception through to when your child is grown- there will always be many different schools of thought.  For mom’s who have caesar’s and epidurals I have enormous respect and admiration for you.  At the end of the day what is most important is that your baby is safe and that it is prevented from being starved of oxygen or placed under distress at birth, for whatever reason.

My belief is that one should go with ones gut. We are all different. What works for some may not work for others.  We are all in this road together and ought to support one another as apposed to judge.

 

Three things to do when waiting to give birth

There is noting that can quite compare to the feeling of utter suspense when waiting for the arrival of your unborn child.  Every cramp, tightening of the stomach and slight wince of pain immediately catapults you into a world of wonder.  Is it now? When will it be and how long will it take?  Was that wee or my waters breaking?  For those who know when the date is set, I can imagine the suspense is as intense as those who have natural birth.

In my current state of pre-natal tension (I am now 39 weeks pregnant with a slowly calcifying placenta), I thought I would offer some thoughts on what one can do to help curb the expectant anxiety of the moment as well as give one strength in the moment.  Perhaps these thoughts will be more helpful to first time mom’s, especially those wanting to have natural birth?  Having experienced giving natural birth twice before, one with an epidural that went wrong, and one without the pain medication, I feel that I am a lot more equipped for what is to come.  I think back to the first time I gave birth and I somehow wish I knew then what I know now.

My thoughts and advice…

  1. Rest now- mentally, physically and spiritually

The term “nesting” has been so real to me, especially now that I am having my third child and running a business at the same time.  It is almost to the point where I have become slightly obsessive and have needed to truly take a step back and “let go”.

I have re-decordated, re-arranged, re-planned.  I have become a drill sergeant when it comes to the routine that Mila and Sam are in and I have not stopped working.  In the past two weeks I have been to bed at 2am on two occasions in an attempt to complete all the work that I have on my plate prior to my little ones arrival.

I was convicted of this obsessive behaviour when my sister approached me with a scripture that rang true.  The scripture she had for me was from Psalm 127 and speaks of how those who “toil and labour, waking early and staying up late, do so in vain as the Lord is the master builder and he is the one who builds the house”.  It then goes on to speak about how “children are a reward from God, like arrows in the hands of a warrior, are children born in ones youth”.

I have realised that all of my attempts to control every detail of my business and life before this baby arrives are futile and that now is the time to step back and to let God “build this house”, as children are the greatest reward.  This baby is a blessing from heaven and whilst I sleep, God will take care of  and build “my house” for me.

After this revelation of the kindness and care of God toward me I am determined to rest.  He longs to bless us and to show himself strong on our behalf.

2.  Take your time

My labour with Mila lasted 27 hours in total.  I did not know what was going on with my body and what to expect.  Contractions seemed to start and then stop and then start again.  I was overcome with frustration and was left completely confused with regard to what was going to happen next.  I remember walking with Dylan to the ATM at 2am, then going for a brisk walk in the pouring rain later that morning, after having been sent home from the hospital because the contractions had stopped.  I timed contractions to the millisecond but as a result only become more and more anxious and exhausted.

With Sam I knew labour would take a while and so I took my time.  I had a sleep, took deep breaths, read my bible and watched the most magnificent sunrise whilst breathing through contractions in the comfort of my own home.  When it was time to go to the hospital I knew it was time as the pain was intense.  It was almost as if in a state of rest and peace I was able to hear what my body was saying.

My mind was focussed and determined and I knew that all would be ok.  I knew that I needed to remain calm and take control.  I used the time to pray over my baby and to expectantly ask God to reassure me of his love and power.  In this state of mental peace my labour process was accelerated and I was able to give birth without drugs and without even a shriek (only a slap to Dylan’s hand when he attempted to massage my back) …and crazy gasps of gas from the gas machine just prior to the delivery.

For those of you who choose to have an epidural or a caesar- this would not be the case but my first experience of a failed epidural, when I had Mila, caused me to choose to go without one when I had Sam.

3.  Relish every moment.

I am overwhelmed at how fast time flies.  Mila will be 5 years old this year and it feels as if I was walking through the rain to quicken her labour last week!  The last five years are like a blur they have gone so fast.

In my longing for this baby to come I am reminded to capture every moment in my mind and heart and not to let time rush by in a haze.  Focussing my attention on the peripheral things of life- like bills that need to be paid and tasks that need to be completed will only rob from this precious, God ordained time.

To all the moms out there who are about to give birth.  I pray for peace over you.  May you rest knowing that it will be ok.  In a state of calm may you be given wisdom and guidance and a surreal knowledge of what it is you should do when the moment of giving birth comes.  May your birth moment be a powerful, awe-inspiring moment.  A moment of rest, joy and excitement, a moment of unprecedented strength and capacity.

Whether you are drugged up for the pain or not, you can do this!

 

 

 

 

 

The easiest cup cakes ever

It was a late Friday afternoon and Mila was begging me to bake a cake.  I decided, in my rather frazzled state, that baking cupcakes would be the quickest and simplest option.  I have a recipe for the easiest cupcakes ever (outside of the pre-mix bought from the shop).

Here it is…

Ingredients: (You’re most likely to have all of these ingredients in your cupboard)

2 Cups of flour

3 t baking powder

125g butter

1t vanilla essence

1 cup sugar

1/2 t salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

Method:

Sift all dry ingredients together. Add the we ingredients. Beat well for 3 minutes with an electric mixer.  Pour into cup cake cups (I didn’t have any so I went without).  Bake at 200 C for 10-15 minutes. Cool and decorate.

 

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I believe that baking and cooking with my kids should be a priority as they learn so much by being allowed to “get stuck in”.  It’s always a huge mess, but who cares I guess…

May you enjoy amazing moments of discovery with your children as you spend time together in the kitchen, loving, sharing and imparting knowledge.

One day we will look back and say “we never knew we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun”…

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A love letter to my daughter

Dear Mila

Four years ago at 5h10am, after 27 hours of labour and a failed epidural, I gave birth to a miracle- that miracle was you.

My heart almost stopped beating when your limp and tired body was taken from mine.  The nurse was instructed by the doctor to rub you in order to get you to cry.  Hot tears flowed down my cheeks as they suctioned your nose to get you to breath.  When they handed you back to me, your naked skin on mine, I knew my life was changed forever.

You are the delight of my heart.  Each moment I look into your flawless face and dark brown eyes, I stand in awe of a God that is a God of purpose, of intention.  He searched you and he knew you even before you were conceived.  He knew that one day He would create a child that was so full of passion and desire to love and be loved.  A sensitive soul with an inquiring mind.  A creative genius who would one day think up ideas others never had, a child who would hear the whispers of Heaven and follow their trail toward greatness.  His eyes saw your unformed body and he mapped out your days in His book, even before any of them came about.

Then, in a secret place, when the time was perfect He began His work, His masterpiece.  He had planned everything to perfection.  He knew exactly what to do.  He knitted you together in my womb and spoke words of life, blessing and praise as He pondered over the joy you would one day bring, immeasurable, unquenchable joy to all around you.  He saw His work and beamed with pride at how wonderful you are, how fearfully and wonderfully you had been created.  He then spoke and said, “Her name must be Mila Grace, which means favoured one, covered by the unmerited favour of God.”  He then made a declaration over you that could never be broken and it was this:

” I have searched you Mila, and I know you, I will know when you sit and when you rise, I perceive all of your thoughts from afar.  I discern your going out and your lying down; I will be familiar with all of your ways.  Before a word is on your tongue, I will know it completely. I will draw you into me on every side and I will always have my hand upon you.  You can’t run away from my Spirit, my thoughts for you outnumber the grains of sand in all the universe.  I will search your heart and know you, I will create in you a pure heart and I will renew a steadfast spirit within you.  You are mine, I will never leave you.  Look to me, my radiant one and your face will never be covered with shame.  You will have choices to make.  I will set before you blessing and curses to choose, but CHOOSE LIFE.  As you make me your delight I will give you all the desires of your heart.  Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.  Anything you ask of me, according to my will will be granted.  The price has been paid in full, you are free.  I have called you for such a time as this so go, run free.  I will make your feet like the feet of a deer so that you may reach the very heights of all that I have to offer you.  Do not hold back, Be BOLD and very courageous. Do not be afraid, remember I am with you and I will never leave you nor forsake you.  My plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, they are yo give you a hope and a future.  You are mine.   Adventure with me Mila on this journey called life.  It will be wild it will be good.”

We love you more than words could ever express and we praise God for giving us the privilege of raising you as our daughter.  It is a job we do not take lightly.  We have dedicated you to Him and pray that you would always choose to run free in the paths of His commands, the paths that lead to a life of fullness and joy.

I will love you forever, unconditionally, immeasurably much.

Love Mom

The words of promise from God to us, are taken form the following scripture references: 

Psalm 139, Jeremiah 29:11, Deuteronomy 30:19, Psalm 37:4, Matthew 7:8, Acts 1:8, Psalm 2:8, Galatians 5:1, Esther 4:14, Psalm 18:33, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6
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Mila at only a few days old.  Pic’s taken by my beautiful friend Kristy Carlson.

Wild At Heart- A Trip To Hluhluwe

Last weekend we were given the opportunity to join Dylan’s side of the family on a trip to the Hluhluwe/Umfolozi Game Reserve.  It was a much needed break as Dylan has been studying for the past 16 months and we have not had the chance to recoup for months.  We stayed at the luxurious (4 star) Hluhluwe River Lodge, just outside the reserve and it was awesome!

To anyone wanting to visit the bush I can highly recommend Hluhluwe River Lodge.  The rooms are spacious and comfortable, with air-con, a fridge, mosquito net’s, a large bathroom, 4 beds and more.  Every meal was delicious and the service…outstanding!  I think that above all, the kind and attentive staff were what made this lodge “shine”.  The setting is rustic, with eleven log cabins set in a forest, covered with tree’s and indigenous flora.  I truly got the feeling that I was in the middle of the bush; a perfect escape from the concrete jungles I have become accustomed to. The activities on offer at the lodge and just outside the lodge are abundant- it is a perfect hideaway for adventurous couples and young families wanting to go on walks, mountain bike rides, game drives and more.

What we loved most was the fact that our children were beside themselves they were so excited to be there.  They had plenty of room to run around and the lodge catered for their every need.  They had separate meal times and were served the most incredible, healthy and age appropriate meals.  In the evenings the lodge offered us an amazing baby sitter named Nomsa so that we could enjoy our dinner peacefully with the adults.

On the Saturday we went out in search of wild animals.  Our high hopes were satisfied when we came up close and personal with rhino, a troop of babboons, giraffe, a myriad of plains game, buffalo and more.  To top it all we came right in-between an enormous heard of elephants (about 100 for sure).  I must be honest it was petrifying as they were extremely close to our car. Click here to see the video I posted on Instagram of me nervously whispering to Dylan to GET GOING!

Here are some of the pic’s from our very special time there.  Spoil yourself and visit Hluhluwe River Lodge for a down to earth and humble getaway in the bush.

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Moist Chocolate Cake

As a part of my desire to spend dedicated quality time with Mila and Sam I have committed to baking with them as often as possible.  Last week we chose to make a delicious, moist chocolate birthday cake for my sister Chanelle who was inviting friend’s over for a birthday picnic.  Mila was away with my in-law’s in the Drakensberg (we stayed home because Dylan had to study) and so Chan and her boyfriend came over to bake with us.  It was so much fun!  Chan and Paul did most of the baking (Chan is an avid baker and Paul is a chef), Sam did most of the messing and I did most of the playing and snapping on my NIKON camera.

The recipe was found on Pinterest and I must say, the outcome was amazing.  The buttermilk and coffee used in this cake make it extremely moist and very decadent.  We then chose to make a ganache icing which was perfect.

Enjoy it… Below are some of the pic’s I took and remember, as Barney says “sharing is caring”.

MOIST CHOCOLATE CAKE
Author: Jennifer Hill
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  35 mins
Total time:  50 mins
Serves: 12
Ingredients:
– 1¾ cups all purpose flour
– 2 cups granulated white sugar
– ¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1½ tsp baking soda
– ¾ teaspoon salt
– 2 large eggs
– 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
– ½ cup butter, melted
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water)
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius. Grease and flour two 22cm baking pans and set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of a standing mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be very runny.
  3. Pour batter evenly between the two pans and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs attached.
  4. Allow to cool 15 minutes in pans, then run a butter knife around the edges of each cake. Place a wire cooling rack over top of each pan. Wearing oven mitts, use both hands to hold the racks in place while flipping the cakes over onto the racks. Set the racks down and gently thump on the bottom of the pans until the cakes release. Cool completely before handling or icing.
Ganache Icing: (found on the Martha Stewart site)
Ingredients:
– 250 grams semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Lindt)
– 1 1/2 cups heavy cream (I used woolies double cream)
Method:
Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until bubbles begin to appear around edges (scalding); pour over chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Set aside at room temperature until cool but pourable, stirring occasionally.
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Mom: A Toast To The Perfect You

It’s Mothers Day in South Africa today, Happy Mothers day to all the beautiful mom’s reading this blog! As I sat down to write my beautiful mother a card, a myriad of thoughts surrounding the woman that I desire to be started to flood my mind.  I began to think about the verse in the bible that speaks about “The Virtuous Woman”.  Proverbs 31 talks about the woman of noble character and is a detailed metaphor of feminine wisdom in the context of a family and a community.  This verse is a toast to woman, honouring us for who we already are in the sight of God.  This verse was never written to keep us held with a noose around our necks as we live lives comparing, striving and feeling like failures when we “don’t match up”.

The intention of this verse was never to re-affirm our insecurities and have us feeling unaccomplished as women.  We are covered by the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ who loves us and, through our frailty sees us as beautiful, perfect, worthy, whole.  Perhaps this verse was meant to be an ode to who we already are.  As we live out who we believe we already are in the sight of God we will be more and more virtuous.  I believe that who we say and feel we are is what we will become in reality.  There is power in the spoken word and our words are an overflow of our thoughts.

Taken from Proverbs 31, this is who I believe you are:

– You lack nothing of value and are far more precious than jewels.

– The heart of your husband trusts in you and he gains from you.   You are reliable and have his best interests at heart.  You are a blessing to your family. – You have willing hands and your worth is far more than the money you bring to the table.

–  You provide hope for your family and are generous to the poor.

–  You are clothed in strength and un-threatened by the strengths of other men or women around you.  You walk your own path and are not overcome by “comparing”.

–  You are not driven by fear and anxiety or worried about the safety of your family.  They are safe in Gods hands and He loves them even more than you do. –  You take care of your inner and outer beauty.  You take pride in your physical appearance because it is a reflection of the inner you.  You are beautiful in your own unique way.

–  You are clothed with strength and worthy of honour and respect.  You can be joyful and laugh at the days to come.  The future is bright.

–  You encourage others with wisdom and you are kind.  You do not gossip and slander those around you.

–  You look after your children and husband well, you are not lazy. –  You are imperfectly perfect.  You are beautiful.   You are you.  

My mom, far left.
My beautiful mom, far left.

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My mom is the hot biker chick, second from the right.
My mom is the hot biker chick, second from the right.  She is and always been a hard core woman of adventure.
My beautiful sister and mom
My beautiful sister and magnificent mom.  I just love them!!

Lemon cake and the love language of quality time.

I am sure you have all heard of Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages”, if not, I can highly recommend this read for anyone wishing to love with intention, in a way that speaks to the unique make-up of the individual you love.  Chapman’s book outlines five ways to express and experience love: gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.  Chapman uses the metaphor of a ‘love tank’ to explain peoples’ need to be loved.  To discover ones unique love language, one must observe the way your loved one expresses love to others, people tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive love.

Whilst I completely agree with Gary Chapman’s theory I truly believe that every child speaks or yearns to be spoken to in the love language of “quality time”.  I have noticed how Mila’s good behaviour diminishes when I am stressed and preoccupied.  When I am rushing from one meeting and task to the next and have not taken the time to engage with her, to talk and play with her, to look into her eyes and care for her emotional needs.  I am reminded of the saying, “if the devil cannot make you bad, he will make you busy”.  I have noticed that when I am too busy my tolerance levels toward my children become depleated.  It’s as if they call out through the whirlwind of life to be noticed, to be embraced.  Baking with a child is a time for imparting knowledge, giving affection and talking about life lessons.  Baking can be a time for thinking, breathing and being at peace.

So last Sunday we decided to bake a delicious LEMON CAKE.  This VERY simple and delicious recipe was passed on to me from my friend Janine Day who I am sure also received it from a friend, who received it from another friend.  It’s one of those recipe’s people will ask you to send to them.  The cake is so easy to make, its extremely moist and light.  Please feel free to share it with others as I share it with you today.  I hope you have as much fun baking it with your loved ones as I did.  This Sunday is my sister Chan’s birthday lunch and so we will be making a birthday cake on Saturday to eat on Sunday.

Here it goes…

LEMON CAKE

Ingredients:

-110 grams of Butter (room temperature)

-1 Cup of Castor Sugar

-2 Large Eggs (room temperature)

-1 and 1/2 cups of self raising flour

-1/2 cup of milk

-1/4 tsp salt

-Rind of Large Lemon

Method:

Cream butter and sugar and beat eggs in one at a time.

Beat well.  Sift flour and salt and add alternately with milk, add the lemon rind.

Pour into greased loaf tin and bake at 180 degrees for 40 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and place on a plate.  Pour over the juice.

The Juice:

1/2 Cup of castor sugar and 1/2 a cup of lemon juice.

Stir over heat to dissolve the sugar.

Pour over the hot cake and leave it to cool.

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