The Orange Conference: It’s Just a Phase

Recently, as one of the children’s ministry leaders at my church, I was blessed to be able to go to the Orange Conference in Atlanta for three days.  It’s a small group and student ministry conference put on by the group that writes the Orange Curriculum {which we use at church}.  This year, their theme was “Monday is Coming”….essentially studying how you are using your impact on Sundays to influence the rest of the week for your younger church goers.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!But another underlying theme {and the title of their new promoted book}, was “It’s Just a Phase.”  The entire back gallery of the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth, GA was fantastically decorated to represent a child’s journey through childhood….birth through college-age.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Now.  I am not an overly sentimental person.  I throw away most of my kids’ “artwork.” We don’t buy every.single.school.picture. each year.  I can easily hug my kids goodbye and head out for a 4 day trip to Atlanta with my girlfriends without even looking back.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!But.  Let me tell you….walking through that gallery was enough to make me a little misty eyed.  I’m sure I was just tired, or had some dirt in my eye.  Allergies, I’m sure.  Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!It all started with a simple display of doors, each labeled with a childhood phase.  A handwritten note encouraged us to write our children’s names on the appropriate doors, which were to be packed up and taken across the country on the “Orange Tour.”  Along the way, the Orange staff and conference attendees would pray for all of the children on the doors.  It’s nice to know that someone else is praying for me and my kids as we conquer this phase of childhood.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Walking past the doors led you down a corridor with displays depicting the phases of childhood.  It was a little overwhelming to me, staring down this loooooong hallway that symbolized 18 years of a child’s life.  On either side of the hallway were clusters of displays…peeks into the different phases of  your kid’s life.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!But seeing the individual bedroom displays for each age period, decorated with actual toys and lovies that my kids have {already!} outgrown, put me over the edge.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!And of course the artwork hanging on the walls and leading up to the next display area reminded every parent there that every phase is fleeting.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!They had jars of marbles in each scene….one marble for each week that aged kid had left before he was grown.  The jars nestled amongst teenage clutter and baby toys was subtle….Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!But when I found a display that explicitly showed how many weeks I have left with each of my three kids?  Powerful.Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!So I’m not sure if it was the four day vacation away from the stress/kids/mess/busyness/sass/fighting/nagging

but I came back feeling more renewed, calm, and patient.  Not that I’m looking forward to all of the challenging phases, but I feel like now I have a mental picture of the time I have left with my kiddos.  Childhood: It's Just a Phase...you are literally losing your marbles!And although some phases are tough, I know they are all stepping stones to becoming a loving, responsible and Christ-like adult.  And I’m trying my best to appreciate everything about every phase.

Because I am literally losing my marbles.

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