The kids loved it; up late most evenings, running around the campsite in their onesies, with their buddies. Their two outfits they wore, covered in grass stains. (Still better than poo though....a friend had an interesting moment with her shorts). They especially enjoyed the Retro cafe; sweets, fun adults, Popcorn, pink ice cream and Disney movies. They visited the skate park and basketball court, and had a battle with their Dad in the Nerf arena. They queued for delicious milkshakes in the Cowshed and listened to some funky tunes in the Rhythm Factory.
For the first time in many years, I had a reason to visit the pink Bar with my princess, where we got our nails done and had hair extensions put in. And every morning, they watched their dad encourage young teenagers to eat cricket fritters and pig's ears, cover themselves in lard and glitter and stuff their leotards with turkey stuffing ready for Christmas day. (There are no answers to the questions of Why? in the 12-14yr olds venue).
Parenting is a funny one at Newday. The kids naturally have more freedom, but living in a caravan or tent means you naturally use a lowered voice to tell them off. (Albeit, stronger eye movements). The kids don't see much of their dad, so I allow them sugar on their cocopops. Their boundaries are extended...mine don't tend to be allowed into 'town' at 10pm, but everything feels a little safer. And their sleep patterns are late nights and ever so slight lay ins. Unless you take a baby or a two year old, then you're just distracting them with milk and dummies and silent songs until you deem it a reasonable hour for other people to hear them.
The highlight has to be watching or hearing thousands of young people, make decisions to follow God, to worship Him, to make a stand for Him, to accept His love for them, to live in the light of His forgiveness of them, and to grasp more of who He is and what He has done for them. Whether I was in the big top in person, (kindly served by my friend who took on the Dawson kids for me) or if I was back at the campsite, feeling the bass line through the caravan walls, I knew God was doing something. I knew Aslan was roaring, calling people to Himself. And they were hearing and responding. I had a couple of those moments myself and I know some of my kids did too.
And now we are home. I'm prone to the Holiday Blues, (whether Newday felt like a holiday or not), so I always have a little lull driving home. My poor girlie one sobbed for a good ten minutes as she said "goodbye caraban", "I've lost my caraban". But sleep and a McDonald's Happy Meal helped. The washing machine is continuously on, and the kids are in closer proximity to me and each other, which as you can imagine is a wonderful adaption.
The mistake would now be to assume that I left God back in Norfolk, that I left His presence in the Big Top, that His righteousness can only be grasped if the band are on stage. It definitely felt easier to acknowledge Him at Newday, to step into His loving presence and worship Him every day. It's what we were all there for. But of course, that's exactly what we are all here for everyday. To acknowledge Him, to step into His loving presence and worship Him every day. Yes He was wonderfully and powerfully in the Big Top, in a showground in Norfolk. But He's also right here, with me, right now. The lion still roars, I may have to tune in more finely that's all. He's still speaking, I may have to be quiet enough to listen that's all. His presence is still wonderfully available, I may have to actively walk into it that's all. Each day is a New Day to spend with Him.