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First Day Of Kindergarten

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

—Romans 8:18 NLT

When I had my first baby in April of 2006, everyone warned me it would happen.

“Enjoy every waking minute of your babies,” they would say, “because the time flies by fast!”

I would smile and nod through my sleep deprived fog, thinking they were surely exaggerating.

They weren’t.

I recently found a picture of my daughter on her first day of Kindergarten. As I type, she is getting ready to begin her last year of elementary school, and I know that I’ll blink and be sending her off to college.

I am a journaler, and have been keeping a record of my thoughts since the eighth grade. Seeing the picture of a five-year-old Caitlyn in pigtails, I decided to dig through my spiral notebooks to see what I wrote about that day:

I woke up this morning to find my sweet daughter curled

up against me in bed. As I smoothed her tousled hair and kissed her rosy cheek, I marveled at the fact that she is five years old and starting kindergarten in less than a week. Even though my children are four and five, I still sometimes feel like a rookie in the mom department.

Caitlyn and I are both anticipating this day; she eagerly, me anxiously. Since leaving my full time job in radio this year (2011), it’s been just me and the kids every day. With daycare no longer an option, we’re a package deal. They come with me to the grocery store, doctors’ and dentist appointments, and we’ve put serious mileage on the jogger stroller.

It is time for her to start school, and she and I are both ready. But I will miss my little girl.

Caitlyn, on the other hand, has been counting down the days all

summer. Yesterday she pattered down stairs in her little bare feet a good hour and fifteen minutes earlier than usual, claiming she wanted to “practice getting ready.” We sat at the breakfast table, she sipping orange juice and me with my coffee, talking softly about all things school.

I remember that conversation like it happened this morning.

“Are you excited, honey?” I asked.

“Mm hmm,” she replied, rubbing sleep from my eyes. Her next question caught me off guard. “And nervous. Were you nervous, mommy?”

I racked my brain, trying to find that decades-old memory. I have a vapor of an image of climbing onto a bus with my back-pack. I recall a later year, trying to fall asleep in our New Brighton, Minnesota home, new outfit laid out on my dresser, tossing and turning long before sleep claimed me. But kindergarten?

Nope. Nothing.

“Sweetie, I’m sure I was a little nervous. But here is what I can tell you: I loved elementary school, and you will, too. You’ll meet so many new friends and learn all kinds of exciting things. You have nothing to be nervous about.”

That conversation has replayed in my mind more than once over the years. Kindergarten was such a monumental event for both of my children. At one point, it had been the same for me, and I can’t even remember it. In fact, I can’t really remember the “firsts” of any elementary school days, save fourth grade, when we’d moved from Minnesota to Overland Park, Kansas. I wore a pink dress my grandmother had made, and the teacher had us move our desks in a circle.

I heard a pastor once say that in the grand scheme of eternity, our entire earthly lives are like the first day of Kindergarten.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

—2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT

Let’s not take anything away from our troubles. My family is no stranger to difficulty, and I know women who are, right now, going through the heartbreak of infertility and the devastation of miscarriage after miscarriage. I am praying for one friend who is incapacitated from back and neck pain, and a family member because of a spot on his lung. My prayer list includes a woman picking up the pieces of her life after losing both her job and her husband, and a precious couple who recently lost their toddler grandson to cancer. People are suffering all across the globe. The Apostle Paul knew suffering.

I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. —2 Corinthians 11:23-25, 27 NLT

And this same Paul, author of 13 books in our New Testament, who saw the glory of Christ on the road to Damascus and was taken up in a vision to the third Heaven, says in comparison to the glory we have coming, these trials and troubles aren’t even worth counting.

If we are to live with Paul’s perspective we must first change our focus.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

—Colossians 3:1-2 NLT

Our very peace of mind, our joy, hinges on what we think. What are you dwelling on? The troubles surrounding you? Or the glory awaiting you? Wherever you are in life, there is more. Let the truth of that statement permeate your every waking moment. Let it direct your words and actions. Let it affect your generosity, your service, your worship, your church attendance, and your prayers. Let the reality of Christ and His coming Kingdom flood your very soul. He is real. He loves you. He is preparing a place for you even now. And someday, the memories of our deepest trials and sorrows will be as faint and foggy as the first day of Kindergarten.

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?”

—John 14:1-2 NLT

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