Summer. 5th grade graduation, Vacation Bible School and the 4th of July are all past. Zoom! I feel a bit like Ferris Bueller but may I point out its important to slow down and look around? I don't want to miss all the little joys in my deadline driven, list checking life.
Bright and early on 4th of July my 4 yr old firecracker set about the house taping pictures of hearts to the walls. I watched for a bit and then asked her why.
"I've decided to celebrate Valentine's Day today."
Okay then. You do you little miss.
She did accept with joy the cotton candy at the neighborhood carnival and handled her giant sparkler with the seriousness the event required. She's wearing my flip flops because half way through the day one of her shoes disappeared. I swear our family can't manage our stuff. After valiantly attempting to keep my car clean it has again deteriorated into squalor. My mom left her glass dish at the 4th of July BBQ. I didn't dare take it out of the car to clean it off and properly return it to her because I was afraid the sewing room would swallow it up if I carried it into the house. So I handed it back to her today still with berry juice stains. Sigh. I make it sound like our house is a mess. Truly not so. My husband is amazingly competent and so the mess is really quarantined to my car and my sewing room. I'm afraid sometimes my kids follow my lead. Or lack there of.
Earlier in the week our eldest got to spend the day at the beach with a dear friend. Is there anything better than standing with someone you love staring out at a wide expanse? It's like a reminder that everything is bigger than you at the very same time you are grounded with a closeness from your friend. Oddly enough this daughter is wearing my shoes also. She's reached the age we're nearly the same size shoe and she'd grown out of her sandals. So mine went to the beach. I swear most of successful motherhood is in the accepting your stuff is not your own. Any of it. Even your time.
Right now I'm sitting in an empty house. I just got home from work. One kid is off at a friend's for the night. The resident chef and the little one are headed back this way. If I remind myself to slow down perhaps tonight we'll paint, or eat strawberries straight off the bushes. Or we'll read or take a walk. If I don't remind myself I'm likely to sit self absorbed on my phone, or watch a brainless show and generally ignore my family. I'll waste the space and time. So I'm taking these few moments to pause. To remind myself. Maybe this is why my daughter taped hearts to the wall and declared an extra Valentines Day right in the midst of our mess and crazy schedule on the Fourth of July. Sometimes we have to be decisive to love well.
I have the honour of being a year adviser at my Christian school in Sydney Australia. This is a job that allows me to look after 30 18 year old girls as they approach the end of their schooling. I have been the year adviser for these girls for the past three and a half years, and have had the pleasure of walking with them as they have grown and matured. It has been strange watching their growth and watching them rebel against different aspects of their schooling experience as they have matured.
Over the years I have heard of fights within groups, and between groups, of young love, and young heartbreak, of anger and frustration with teachers and assessment tasks, and as they have grown older, dissatisfaction with the whole concept of schooling.
These girls have begun to push all of the boundaries they have been given, wearing their uniform incorrectly, complaining about work load, coming late to school, not completing homework and then getting snippy with staff when they get them in trouble for any of these things. These girls, they are groaning for the next stage of their life, groaning for the part where they aren’t treated like children any more.
One of my roles in this job is to discipline these girls, and this part gets harder and harder as they get older and it becomes increasingly clear to me that they are almost adults, and it really doesn’t matter if they wear a necklace or not. I see their future too, as fulfilled adults working in jobs they love and wearing whatever nail polish they choose, it just feels right for them. It feels like they aren’t made for this world at school anymore.
That said, I don’t think this attitude is good – while they are in school they should respect their teachers, and respect the school rules, no matter how silly they may seem. That being disrespectful is still sin, and sin is still sin.
As I thought about this, I realized that I too often focus on the bad things in creation groaning with the hurts and sadnessesand stresses of this creation, frustrated that it isn’t perfect, that it isn’t right, and in turn, choosing a sinful response rather than a hope filled, Heaven focused one.
I’ve been telling the girls that they need to focus on the good things of school, but be looking forward to next year, working in the situation they are in but with their eyes on the new stage beginning soon. As I’ve been telling them this, I have been realizing that I too need to be applying this to my whole life.
We don’t live in a perfect world. We don’t live in the new heaven and new Earth promised us. It is so easy to focus on what is wrong here, without casting our eyes to the hope that is before us, to the next stage - the one we were made for!
Suffering will come, difficult times will continue to affect us. We will still groan under our sin, groan under the pain of this current Earth, but let’s be encouraged to obey these Earthly rules as we were commanded, but to not let our hope of a new creation fade. Because one day, there will be no more tears, there will be no more suffering, for God is making all things new.
21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
- Revelations 21: 1 – 5 (NIV)
It's Quirky Faith's birthday!! In honor I thought you'd all like to see the top five posts from last year. These are the most read, most shared, most loved posts. So says Google Analytics at least. Do you have a favorite they missed?
#5. Epic: Yup Again. Of course puke would make the top five.
#4. Five top tips to protect your marriage. Seriously important topic. No wonder you all read this one.
#3. We don't throw tomatoes at the bride. I'm a fiercely loyal person. This post touched on a hot topic. People love to criticize churches, leaders, pastors and ministries. But should we?
#2. Wall of Faith: Jill I was so greatly encouraged by this lovely post about how to trust God in the midst of deep water. If you haven't read it yet you really should.
and the number one post last year?
#1. Wall of Faith: Tara. It makes me so happy the top two posts were beautiful stories from other people. I knew God wants us to help people tell their stories! This gorgeous story about learning to speak the language of Grace was the top post last year. Read it and find out why.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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