Faith, parenting, Uncategorized

Knowing when to send your cardboard castle to recycling

“Don’t come in, Mum!”

“We’re making a surprise!”

The door to my seven-year-old son’s room is closed and I’m leaning in, ear to wood panels, to hear muffled exchanges between him and his three-year-old sister. There’s the occasional screech of sticky-tape being pulled from a dispenser, the snip of scissor blades and rustling of paper, plastic and who knows what else.

I smile and leave them to it.
How I love it when they do this! When they talk in excited whispers, constructing Otherworlds, their imaginations swinging each other joyfully around.

What I’m saying is, I love it when they play nicely without needing a screen of some description sucking energy out their eye sockets!

Eventually, the door swings open and the two of them walk, slow as a bridal march, down the hall to find me in the kitchen. I drop the spoon of the pasta sauce I’m cooking and marvel at the castle they have created. The main fortress is made from the plastic package our new letterbox came in, with a central tower built up using a Shapes box, gnocchi packet and biscuit trays. There’s an egg carton turret… there’s also a moment of white panic as I realise that the “princess” (a Lego Chima figure) is reclining on a “mattress” that is in fact one of those absorbent pads found on meat trays. I kid you not. Eew.

So, everything was paused as Mama scrubbed hands and gave an impromptu hygiene lesson. Won’t happen again. Pretty sure they now believe meat trays are the leading cause of child deaths.

Back to the castle…
We oohed and aahed. But can I be honest? Deep down I was inspecting the contraption, taking rough measurements relative to the size of my son’s bedroom floor and predicting how long it would take before they move on to something new.

How long before I can sneak it out to the recycling bin?

Am I a bad mum?

Thing is, I’m thrilled about the energy they put into the project – their creativity, concentration, the way the worked diligently together, the commitment and fine motor skills. Totally pumped about all of that. Gosh I love my kiddos.

But the part where they get attached to what amounts to a week’s worth of recycling stuck precariously together with a roll or two of sticky-tape? Not so much.

And it got me thinking about how God must feel much the same with us, his children.

He loves us. Loves the devotion we pour into that new work project, the creativity in designing a new logo, kitchen or app, the innovation of solving problems, the tireless commitment to the task. He’s into all of that.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as if working for God, not men.”
– Colossians 3:23

God loves us to be industrious, productive. It’s a reflection of the image of God to do so.

But when those projects: the architecturally designed home, the work project eating into weekends and family time, the art collection or fashion obsession – when they take spaces in our heart, energy stores and headspace that are reserved for God, that’s when we need to take an armload to the recycling bin.

If you get my meaning.


If you haven’t heard already (and apologies if you have…), I’m publishing a book! Learn more about FLAM here, and how you can support its success via my crowd-funding campaign. Thank you!

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I am a writer, mother, wife and believer in a reality bigger than my own. I love exploring the small epiphanies of life. Nothing is humdrum. Every moment is charged with opportunity, each one mixing its ideas with the ink in my pen. You call it alchemy, I call it God.

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