Hope

Three days ago I wrote a blog post on a research education blog I have slowly been cultivating over the last year or so. It is a space for me to reflect on my reading and research for my PhD. I rarely connect The Jester Flys with this humble little 7mouths2feed because I know my audience is quite different. But today as I sat in Church, I was overwhelmed by the connection between my life and that blog post.

I had written about hope, the hope that teachers hold close.

“Hope that we can  make a difference. Hope to support young people on their learning journey. Hope that they will understand. Hope that they will grow in independence and knowledge. Hope that will unlock something and that it will usher in a lifetime of learning.”

There it was … hope. I realised that I needed to see and remember and recall the hope I have in faith in God. The assurance of His Love, the peace that I experience in this life, the comfort, the hope in future grace. But to say I got there because of something that happened in church alone would be inaccurate. I share this now because I have connected the dots and want to be frank about the way I see God at work, in spite of my hard heart and incapacity to hope.

In the last week, in the midst of busyness, flu and a house full of sick kids my man and I watched this talk from Tim Keller about identity.

It offered me a new framework for thinking about my life, my purpose and my identity.

Then an overdue phone call from a close friend reminded me of my need to be in relationship with people who will encourage me, support me, challenge in my faith. Not in how I will spend my money, how I will advance my career or what Netflix series I should watch. But how I should live my life and be real. I needed more of God’s word in my life.

I then flicked through my Shereadstruth app and was reminded of Proverbs 1:7 – the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Finally, my man shared with me a great presentation from The Austin Stone Community Church. The Stone’s teaching has been a source of regular encouragement for us, but their home and their missional life is far away in Texas. You can get a sense of these stories here.
I was moved by people sharing their story, sharing their hope in the midst of pain and loss and suffering. This story  in particular.  I was moved by the way people responded to those needs. They offered hope, they showed love and they served.

Reminding myself that I was a part of something bigger than me and that God had a plan for me that was larger than anything I could ever imagine, reminded me that there is hope. Hope in a future in which I am loved, assured and forgiven.

I see Hope in a new light today. Hope underpins all that I do, all that I am. As a wife, mother, daughter and friend; in my role as educator, researcher, coach and counselor. Hope is something I want to hold on to. Hope.

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That Dragon Cancer

I have never liked video games. I am bad at them. So it was inevitable when my boy started playing video games (some years ago now), that I would sigh, shrug and my eyes would glaze over. 

The paradox is that as an English teacher I an intrigued by the game as text and how we can learn from this as a medium. So I have not entirely had my eyes shut when my boy has introduced me to another game, talked about the narrative, the character development, artwork, amazing animation and sound track. The video game is epic novel and film on one, with the added bonus of having full interactivity. You can choose your own adventure and to my surprise you have to have sound literacy and numeracy skills, the ability to problem solve and reason to play well.

My boy is good at gaming.

He sat me down, as he often does to show me a video. But this time it was different. This was a gaming review of a new production That Dragon Cancer. What comes to mind?

Honestly I did not expect what unfolded. The Good Game reviewers (see you tube review here) were pleasantly authentic in their response to this game that was born out of a couple’s experience with their own child’s cancer. Cancer is the dragon and in the life of the game you ‘experience’ the competing emotions, decisions and developments as cancer, the dragon devours  the child and impacts the family.

From a gaming point of view even I can tell that there is something stilted about the game, the on track progression and clumsy transitions. However,  this game game created by Ryan and Amy Green, Josh Larson, and a small team under the name Numinous Games use the real voice over recordings of the family that intersperse the play and the result is amazing. I was in tears watching the review.

Most remarkable of all is the game makers inclusion of their strong faith journey throughout their cancer journey. The Christian faith is the framework from which they celebrate small wins and cry out in pain and hopelessness. For me this was gaming at a whole new level.

Here is a real life family experience that has been expressed through the world of gaming, to help others and enlarge each players understanding of what is possible in life. I am more in awe of the gaming world and can appreciate a bit more of what my boy enjoys.

Paper Planes

I have spent a lot of my life grappling with the concept of difference. Race, gender and religion have all played a part in defining this notion for me personally. I remember being relieved moving to the city at 18 years old and starting University to find that my perceived handicap of difference was not so bad after all. There was a healthy and dynamic multi cultural mix amongst my peers, there were people speaking openly about their faith and belief systems and I was introduced to the world of feminism via literature and politics.

These issues have not gone away entirely. But one of the beautiful things about growing older (and hopefully wiser) is that you are better able to determine what really matters, what to care about, devout time and energy to and what to leave behind.

I care about issues of race, marginalisation, discrimination to the point where it hurts. I am a strong advocate for women in this world and their right to education, healthcare, housing and freedom. And I love the idea that we can discuss our ideas and beliefs about faith.

But what I want to be known for is that these issues are secondary to me being confident in God’s grace and that my identity is in Him. So there will be days where I will look like a poor paper plane amongst the jet planes. My focus and fight will seem counter cultural. But this difference is worth it. This difference is eternal.

Honesty

I enjoy writing, journaling and describing my life, our world, my family, friends, inspirations and faith. And I do some of that here on this blog. But honestly I have days that I wonder why. Have you ever stared at your blank Facebook status update box and felt inept…nothing witty, engaging or thrilling was coming to mind. You write nothing – fail. You write something little- boring. You make it up – brilliant. But it is not you. It is not honest. I guess writing a blog can be a similar process. I have days when I wonder what to post, I rarely plan ahead. I wonder who reads it, after all there is little dialogue, comment and feedback. And yet I yearn to know you read it, that it matters, that you like it. For many writers the process is solitary, the criticism is public and the outcomes unknown.
So today when I heard someone had read my blog and learnt more about me I was excited. But not in the way you might think. I was excited because the reader was pointed to my faith. My faith in Jesus. I hope that in all of my reflections, excitement and discussions here I can glorify Him. God is a creator and he loves beauty, design, he delights in good family life, loving marriages, bountiful banquets, healing hands and communities that love and support each other. He loves us in the pain, the hardship and even in our failures, our sin.
 John Piper says:
God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

We all make a god out of what we take the most pleasure in. Christian Hedonists want to make God their God by seeking after the greatest pleasure—pleasure in him.

 If you want to know what motivates me more read the whole article hereAnd I am hoping that the things that I take pleasure in and celebrate here will point to him. Honestly.