The Power of Pause: A Good Theme

a good theme

It’s the heart of summer in the States right now. My parents back home are busy with Vacation Bible School, youth camp, and all the other things that happen in churches during the summer. They have to sweat in 120 degree weather while I am cuddled up in my blankets with the space heater on full blast here. Weather, orbits, and the earth’s axis befuddle me daily. Sometimes I pause and have to think… wait. It’s not December – it’s July!!! The 4th of July comes around, and I feel like I need to wake up and open presents.

Another holiday that confuses me is Easter. Easter here in New Zealand is different than Texas for many reasons. For one, there are SOOOOO many chocolate bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs and chocolate dinosaurs and chocolate rugby balls. They don’t decorate the hard-boiled eggs like we do or use the plastic eggs to put goodies and quarters in.

Another confusing difference is that churches have youth camp on Easter weekend (four day weekend here for everyone) instead of summer. So they don’t sweat and boil and get heat stroke during youth camp like we do because it’s autumn at the time.

I signed up to go this past year and I was unbelievably excited about it. I mean, youth camp without Texas heat? Yes! I was so ready for that!

The theme was simple: “Pause”.

I thought this was a really good theme. I was all, like, yes. Yes, that is such a good topic for, not just teens, but for everyone. We get so busy, or if we’re not busy, we tend to create busy-ness to fill in the void.

I prepared myself. In February, I began to wean myself off coffee to give myself healthy adrenal function so that I could be my best self at camp. The last two summer youth camps I attended, I was sick in the dorms most of the time. And I hate disappointing people. I continued to stay away from sugar, and I took care of my body.

the power of pause theme insta

You know a person is really serious about something when they decide to say no to coffee for two month.

And I tried to pause. I wanted to prepare myself.

But, pausing was hard.

In the end, Mark brought home a stomach virus from the hospital and I got sick the night before we left. It was out of our hands. There were tears. The whole thing was made worse by the fact that I was off caffeine, too. Horrible, right?

Though I get sick sometimes and that makes me discouraged, I almost always neglect to just pause and spend time with Jesus. I learned some things in those two months of preparing my body, mind, and soul to go spend time with teenagers. I want to continue to journey into that mind-space of pausing.

Let’s spend a few days of just stopping. Take an intermission in the middle of the chaotic play of life. Learn to set aside our phones, our computers, and our spinning brains long enough to see God, to see each other, and to spend time with ourselves. This is good. We need to find the power in pausing.

Reality of Fairy Tales

What does a fairy tale really look like?

I’m sitting here in a sun-drenched bach, looking out the window at green mountains and valleys – out into the ocean and the beach down the hill, out to boats resting in the harbour for the winter. The water is so blue, I could easily mistake it for sky, so the boats look like little seagulls flying far away. The song of native birds rings out in the air – beautiful hymns that the tui sings with the angels and happy, joyful tunes from the fantails as they flit and float through the trees. The deep, intimate ballads of the wind and the sea makes it easy to feel that I am one with this place – that nature doesn’t mind sharing itself with me.

Untitled design (2)When Mark & I were married eight months ago, I felt a sort of happiness that I’d not felt before. It was similar to the calm I feel right now, sitting here. That everything was alright in the world – that I was one with another person. He and I are the same.

We have only been married for those mere eight months, but I have a different view of a fairy tale than I had before we got married. I mean, I knew that marriage was hard, and I was not soooo naïve that I thought we were going to live the rest of our lives in a magical castle and ride together on horseback every afternoon of our lives. I knew that I probably wouldn’t be wearing a crown or that fluffy pink dress every day for the rest of my life. Fairy tales have a use, but they look a bit different when they aren’t animated and people aren’t singing and dancing like a flash mob wherever you go.

Having said that, marriage is better than I imagined. You know how the prince and the princess ride away in their carriage after the wedding and you don’t really know what happens in “happily ever after”? In this “honeymoon stage” of my marriage, I feel like the movie should start with the wedding. Yeah, I’m lonely sometimes (even though I have Mark) and I get sad and homesick, but there is another person with me. I am his and he is mine. Where he goes, I go. Where he stays, I stay.

This goes for friendships, too. Mark is my best friend, but I have other best friends as well. I have a best friend in Holliday, a couple in Oklahoma, another in Dallas, and luckily, one in New Zealand. They bring me peace and comfort. And I think that a committed friendship is like marriage in a lot of ways. My best friends are my friends for life and we don’t give up on each other in the hard times. We get closer.

So, sitting here in the Coromandel, gazing out the windows into the sunshine, listening to the wind and waves soothe our souls, I reflect on peace and I reflect on my friendship and on my marriage. I am grateful for the friendships my husband has – that we can be here with his friends, and that he is out there now spearing fish with his friend’s spear gun, wearing another friend’s weight belt.

I am thankful that our friend found a octopus yesterday. I never dreamt of ever seeing one in real life.the octopus

I am thankful for the starfish and the kina we found.

I am thankful for the quartz and jasper at the top of the ocean.

I am thankful my husband let me bring home seashells and random rocks.

I am thankful that he found a perfect paua shell for me to keep.

I am thankful for the sunset’s colours pouring out over the Coromandel cliffs and valleys.

I am thankful for these little things.

Mark has finished his studies for nursing, and took his final test last week – the state exam. He has been offered a job where we wanted to be, and so many others won’t get jobs or interviews this time around. We have a roof over our heads, and a fireplace for the winter.

I am thankful for all these big things.

I get to experience a fairy tale – walking barefoot on the sand with my lover, my husband, my best friend – sharing my life with him, laughing when he laughs and crying when he is sad. I am thankful for this life in the good and the bad. And I want to remember to do that for the rest of my life. My happiness doesn’t depend on my husband or my friendships. But they do enhance my life.

This fairy tale – this life we have – is ongoing, and I’m glad it doesn’t end with a wedding.