Monday, 31 December 2012

The year in review

Photography by Bethany Hamilton

The sunset of another year and the dawn of the new brings time for reflection. What have been highlights in 2012 for your family? I think it's good to practise gratitude and remember. Remember the good times, the low lights, the challenges and the ways in which we've all grown, physically, emotionally, academically, socially, spiritually.

We chatted about this last night at the dinner table and the first comments were around family holidays as stand out memories for the year. Being a camping kinda family we spent both Easter and Spring September holidays camping, both great times of memory making & community spent with other families and friends. My four also holidayed with their Dad in Canberra & Victoria to celebrate their Granny's 70th birthday. A long road trip, but one that clocked up the hours for EQ's L's!

From camping to a political campaign that my beautiful four embraced and pushed me forward. They were incredibly supportive as were extended family and community. So grateful for the experience, people met and lessons learnt along the way.

EQ has had a blended year of school, TAFE & work. He has managed to save the majority of his earnings, resist the temptations to spend it on unnecessary things as most of his peers and can proudly say he can afford to buy his own car now due to his hard work. Learning a strong work ethic has been important to him and I am grateful as his Mum that he has chosen to do this. His keen love of skateboarding and surfing filled any spare time and thankfully no serious injuries this year!

Deep Waters being the academic of the family after a couple of wobbly years at school has applied himself this year and seen the results of his hard work pay off. Gaining the HPE and Science Subject awards and an 'A' for his grade 6 piano exam. The hours and hours of piano practise being an absolute delight for me listening, pure slog for him! DW ends the year also starting part time work and has found himself as Mr Independence skating here, there & everywhere.

Thoughtful Princess has blossomed in 2012, growing into a young woman physically, emotionally taking on the joy of serving others as a leader at camp, in Kids Church & spiritually experiencing her own revival starting God circles at school & on weekends. She has excelled in music, playing in three ensembles, going on Music Tour and though sadly had to say goodbye to her saxophone teacher of 5 years, and her beloved jazz band, has thankfully persevered with encouragement despite the desire to quit due to so much change.

Sunshine's year is resoundingly marked with dance. What started as a joke giving up walking and dancing everywhere not far from reality. Sunshine's life one of movement. On average she has spent 12 - 15 hours a week dancing, some weeks double that with eisteddfods or concerts. Her love of dance inspires us all. Her discipline, determination and passion admirable traits that defy even me as a parent. Keeping dance as an interest and not an obsession probably our hardest challenge. Learning to enjoy and not stress re perfection also up there too. Her love of dance translated to 5 High Distinctions, gaining over 95% for every exam she did. She is one very happy, budding ballerina, her bedroom now a shrine to dance! If she isn't dancing, she is reading. After home & the dance studio, the library is her favourite place to be.

Far from an exhaustive summary of the year, only highlights that jump out without thinking too deeply. Most of all as a Mum, I am simply grateful for my children's good health, active, enquiring minds, their incredible resilience amidst constant change in their lives and the absolute privilege it is to nurture their natural talents and abilities and foster new opportunities and experiences.

As we say goodbye to 2012 and anticipate 2013 may we all continue to cherish our children, be grateful for the ordinary, the mundane, the special times, the highs and lows that shape life and our hearts.

Wishing you all the very best of everything in the coming year. 
Happy New Year everyone. 

Friday, 28 December 2012

Boxing Day Blues

Do you ever get that feeling post people, people, people of feeling flat? When there has been one thing after another, activities, gatherings, dinners, lunches, functions, then sudden quietness. Most times it's refreshing to have quiet after a busy stretch but sometimes there is a flat, lull feeling, an anti-climax.

Boxing Day saw the classic expression of an artistic soul in my beautiful daughter, Thoughtful Princess. After a weeks of frenetic pace, pre Christmas buzz & preparations, sleep-overs, a busy Christmas Eve, full compliment of family Christmas Day - Boxing Day at home came as a little bit of a slump after a big build up & super busy period for my daughter, no doubt welcomed for others.

We dared venture to the shops in the morning to catch some sales then had a much needed quiet afternoon at home. I noticed Thoughtful Princess 'floating' around the house, going from the piano to the guitar to her room to the couch, unable to settle, avoiding tidying her bedroom, just anyhow! When I asked if she felt a bit flat, she agreed that described her mood.

Like a true artistic soul she took to nature and creativity and chose to dance her blues away. She put music on and danced for hours in the backyard, literally till the sun set. Using her ballet, contemporary and jazz skills she made up dances to express her soul... dancing from the heart she called it.

It was beautiful to behold!

Watching her from the kitchen window it was delightful to see her dance her blues away!

Thoughtful Princess as one who excels easily in music, drama & history made me appreciate again the beauty of the arts to express oneself when words or work momentarily can't. Where the creative flow of music, dance or art take over. It is so liberating. She looked so free.

I hope these holidays there are moments where we all can get caught up in the creative flow - whatever it is for you. Gardening, writing, composing, playing music, dancing, designing, carving, cooking, painting, singing - Whatever nurtures your soul, find some time to revel in it.......

Cherishing my daughter
Cherishing the arts
Cherishing quiet times

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Jesus Who?

This week leading up to Christmas I have been listening to who people think Jesus really is. To get beyond the decorations, wrapping paper & presents, if Christmas is all about Christ then who is He? Why does the one who defines history, BC & AD not get more kudos if we are meant to be celebrating His birthday! Is it all cliche?

I love hearing how people describe Him. Some see Him as the baby in the manager, others as one who loved little children, healed people, did miracles, spoke of a new way of living, died on a cross, rose from the dead, a Prophet, the Messiah, others have ethereal perspectives and images, and some see Him as their best friend, Saviour, Lord - but what does that really mean? 

Sometimes as a someone who tries to follow Christ  I am embarrassed to say I am a Christian - not because of Christ, but because of other Christians. 

Media often portrays the worst, only the bad stuff makes head lines & news. The Catholic priest paedophiles, the fundamentalists against gay marriage, the right wing pro lifers who picket abortion clinics. This is the picture often painted of Christians. Is it really what Christ was on about? 

I read an article this week that tried to describe the difference;

"One thing that might ease our anxiety is to remember that Christ and Christianity are not the same thing; If Christ is the wind, then Christianity is the sail. Some sails are better than others at catching the wind, some sailors are better at using the sail, but there is always and only one wind."

Seeing Jesus as the wind is a good analogy - as the One who gives breathe to life, gives direction.....

The writer, Shane Hipps goes on; "Just because Christianity claims Jesus as its own does not mean that Christ automatically claims Christianity as his own.
In one sense, Christ is the pre-existent creative power of the universe with no birthday or death date, Christianity on the other hand is an institution built with the intention of harnessing that power. If the institution goes away, the power remains. Put simply, Christ is much, much bigger than any religion.
In one of the gospels, Jesus has an experience with a woman from another culture. Jesus introduces her to the possibility of eternal life. This woman was a member of a religion starkly at odds with his own. She was a Samaritan, he was a Jew; the gap between these two is comparable to the gap between Muslims and Christians today. Yet, throughout their conversation, he never once made religious conversion a requirement for her to access eternal life. To paraphrase, Jesus essentially says to her, "I don't much care where or how you worship, but if you can recognize me, streams of living water will flow from within you."
In the story above, Jesus focuses her attention on a deeper interior reality, rather than external ones. The religion of the woman is immaterial. However, we notice a minimum requirement to recognize Jesus in order to get the goods he offers. It might be tempting to conclude that as long as we recognize and name Jesus that is what matters.
 Sometimes even recognition isn't a requirement for Christ to be real in our lives. In another story of Jesus, He spat on the ground, made mud pies and smeared them on a blind man's face. Soon the man could see. The method of the miracle is so bizarre that we often miss the most important point. The man didn't ask to be healed. He was minding his own business when some guy rubs dirt and spit on his eyes and them tells him to go wash it off. He didn't even know the name of his assailant. Here Jesus performs a miracle without anyone asking or recognizing who he was. Jesus served as an anonymous donor, able to give gifts without getting the credit. If we, who are merely human, are able to give anonymous gifts, how much more is Jesus?"

Jesus said, "love one another" - I think until we get that right, let's stop judging, condemning and accusing each other! 
Ask who Jesus really is this Christmas? He is not banging on about religion! 

To me, He is the lover of my soul, author of life, my peace in uncertainty, a wonderful counsellor, a gracious, gracious God, everlasting Father, the reason that I live. 
Hoping you have a wonderful time with family, friends, loved ones today. Cherishing Christmas as it brings us together, to be in touch, to celebrate, to be generous to one another, to practice goodwill, charity and random acts of kindness. I think this demonstrates who Jesus really is.......

If you'd like to read the full article referenced follow the link below:

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Milestone Moments

Reflecting on the week that was. Probably one of the most momentous weeks of the year for us as a family finishing up school and all that entails for 2012. Very nostalgic as we celebrate significant milestones in the lives of our four. Saying goodbyes & anticipating new beginnings........

Milestones seem to serve as a reminder that nothing stays the same, that we are ever growing & changing. The only thing that remains constant is change. Rose Kennedy would say that, "life is not about milestones but about moments." 

So let's combine the two & rephrase, "life is about milestone moments". I would also add, "and how we capture them"! 

For Sunshine primary school graduation this week, the baby of our family now a 'tweenager'! Honestly is the whole idea of middle school really a good idea? Seems to be making children grow up quicker?

For Thoughtful Princess graduating from middle school into senior school and a semi formal to do so. An event that seems to create 18yr olds out of 14yr olds for the night! Not so convinced it's necessary.

For Deep Waters transitioning from grade 10 to 11 and the selection of subjects that seem to force one to 'be' something or shape a certain career path at such an early age.

For EQ saying goodbye to taking school casually and readying for serious application in grade 12. Working over the holidays towards an apprenticeship, sign of the times that he is growing into adult responsibility.

Emotional too - having chatted with many mums during this week, seems a common theme for emotions to be running high as we say farewell to primary school, teachers, almost in a sense, childhood, as we embrace the prospect of middle school, senior school & independence for our teens.

It's a mixed bag of happy/sad. Celebrating their achievements and grateful for the year, sad to say goodbye to certain times that you know will never happen again. Closing off of a chapter in their lives to open the next........

As a young mum, everyone always made the comment, "blink & they grow up" - now they are nearly all grown up, can't help but say, it's true!

Cherishing milestone moments
Cherishing the chaos of busy family life
Cherishing occasions to celebrate