Friday, 23 April 2010

God told them, "I've never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love! Jeremiah 31:3 (The Message)

If you have ever rocked a baby in the stillness of the night, then got up in the morning exhausted from lack of sleep, you know how difficult parenting can be and also what joy your child can bring. If you have ever cuddled up to your baby and had that very same sweet smelling baby throw up on your clean shirt, you know how frustrated you can feel at the same time as your heart wells up with overwhelming love. If you have ever resented spending your hard earned money on piano, tennis, swimming or ballet lessons that seem taken for granted, then watched with pride your child’s sense of achievement, you know the difficult journey you face and the rewards it will bring.

As they grow they seem to challenge you at every turn – they no longer accept your guidance unquestioningly, but seem to disagree with every word you utter, then when you are sure you are going mad, out of the blue they make an observation, see a new angle, or put a new twist on things, and you marvel at the brilliance of their perspective.

No one ever said parenting would be easy. Parenting means giving unselfishly when you are exhausted. It means buying your children new shoes while you go without. It means running them around everywhere. It means staying up late and not being able to lie in. It means sharing everything – even when you didn’t know you were sharing it! It means loving unconditionally.

Although parenting is perhaps the most important calling, it is the least taught in our culture. These small people turn up in our lives and we are expected to know how to look after them and raise them by osmosis. Never feel ashamed to ask for help, we are all in the same boat – child not sleeping, potty training, clingy child, the list is endless. Talk to other parents or read books on parenting and child development, try the Barney’s Toddler Group library. If you are stumped look for a parenting course to attend, there are some around. We have run them at St B’s before and are happy to do them again.

Just remember, you are not alone, every parent has/is been there and has/is wearing the T shirt. Mine says “Fifteen years experience, surviving, no expert, but please ask me I would love to try and help”.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Point your kids in the right direction, when they're old they won't be lost. Proverbs 22v6 (The Message)

Sometimes it is easy to forget that children have just arrived on the earth, and we expect far too much, far too soon. We become impatient, urging them to learn it all, learn it all quickly, to know it all and “act their age”, whatever that may mean.

Although it is true that children learn quickly about life through observation, it is unrealistic to expect them to be on top of it all and always get things right. I am the proud owner of two teenagers who, despite their size, both love to crawl into my lap and be hugged and rocked like they were when they were little. This is when I realise that at times my expectations for my children are unrealistic, when my ‘big girls’ still want to be ‘little girls’ – and have every right to be treated so as they have only been on this earth 13 and 15 years respectively. (They may be, physically, almost as big as me, but they are still young and have a lot to learn about life – come to think of it so do I!)

In your parenting how often do you find yourself beginning each sentence with “Don’t”. Have you asked yourself “Have I explained what I do want? Have I showed him/her how to close the door quietly? How I explained how to get my attention when I am busy?”. Explaining the dos works much better than constantly harping on the don’ts. Try explaining things to them, share information three times in three different ways.

One of my friends caught her three year old son playing roughly with their new kitten. After yelling at him numerous times to be gentler with the kitten she realised that she had never shown him how to hold a kitten properly. So she stopped and showed him. She let him practise with her helping him, she showed him a few more times and after a while he got the hang of it.
Give your children lots of practice time for whatever they’re learning, and remind yourself that, after all, they’ve been here a very short time.

Father God, you are the greatest teacher and perfect Father, please guide us in how to be good parents to our children. Show us how to model your unconditional love. Thank you for blessing us with them and may we in turn be a blessing to them. Amen

Friday, 9 April 2010

Open the floodgates of heaven and let it rain!

Rain is a good reminder of how our attitude can affect everything. Some of us let it destroy our day, others consider it a blessing.

Children seem to like the rain. They like to get wet and splash in puddles. When our girls were 7 & 9 we went on a family holiday to France. From the moment we arrived it rained, and rained, and rained. Steve and my first reactions were great, some holiday! The girls, however, were really not bothered by it. On the third morning when we got up, it was still raining, we went downstairs in our pyjamas for breakfast and just as we sat at the table Molly said “let’s go outside in the rain in our pyjamas Mum.” Steve and I looked at each other, mumbled excuses why we shouldn’t and prepared breakfast. “Come on Mum, let’s go outside” Molly asked again.

In that moment I felt the urge to agree with her, so outside we went, in our pyjamas, barefoot across the gravel courtyard and onto the grass, shrieking and laughing at the same time. It was howling down with rain, we were wet through in seconds, but it didn’t matter it was amazing fun. We stood on the grass by the trees, faces towards the sky, filling our open mouths with the rain – all of us like little kids. Then Alice shouted ‘there’s something on my foot!’, we looked down to see a tiny frog sitting on her foot, and there were lots and lots of them on the grass, all hopping around enjoying the rain like we were. In that moment life felt fresh and simple. It was pure joy. It was much more fun that being practical. Years later we all remember that day so clearly, that crazy, but fun morning.

When it comes to enjoying the simple pleasures in life, children are our best teachers. Adults forget quickly and get caught up in the little things that don’t matter very much. So what if you get wet when it is raining? By worrying about that you miss out on the fun of the moment. Kids can remind us to keep our attitude positive and our thoughts focussed on what really makes our hearts sing.

So relax and let the rain fall. Try never to miss out on a moment of joy with your kids!

The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: "Don't push these children away. Don't ever get between them and me. These children are at the very centre of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in." Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. Mark 10:13 The Message

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Investing in your kids!

Sharing in your children’s pain and joy is the most precious privilege anyone could have, whether you are their Mum, Dad or spiritual parent. When they come to you and say “Mum can I talk to you about something” and you get that sinking feeling you can do one of three things, firstly be very proud that you have the kind of relationship where they can trust you with their secrets, secondly feel very honoured and give them all the time they need, or thirdly run a mile!

By the grace of God and a lot of hard work I have an amazing relationship with my girls. It has taken a lot of investing in, a lot of being honest, a lot of saying sorry when I messed up, a lot of laughs and twice as many tears. Yet is it my greatest achievement. I’m not saying that I am ‘supermum’ (the thong on the outside of my jeans is not a good look!) neither do I want you to think I am bragging because I fall down just as many times as I get it right and it is really heart wrenching tough work. But being real and honest with my girls has allowed them to be the same with me.

It’s the same with anything you put into life, any relationship or any job. The more you invest the better it is. Which is all a bit counter cultural these days as I notice the younger generations picking up a ‘if it’s broken, don’t bother fixing it just buy a new one’ mentality therefore walking away from situations that are so often redeemable, yet left broken. Many children are living in broken homes because relationships and marriages have not been invested in, because some think it is easier to start again elsewhere that fix what they already have. Life cannot and will not be hearts and flowers all the time. Times get tough, hard life choices have to be faced and sadly these days the being honest, open and vulnerable option from above, the run a mile option, is chosen because it is the easiest. But is it?

It’s not easy being a parent, no one ever said it would be. But we owe it to our children to be the best parents we can be. By investing in ourselves, our marriages and our relationships. By showing our children the ups and downs of life, by being vulnerable, by saying sorry, by sharing and celebrating the joy, but also sharing and celebrating the pain. Showing them that when tough times happen we can deal with them and try to fix them rather than walk away. It’s not about getting it right all the time, but it is about showing our children that nothing they could ever do would change how much we love them, how much we care.

It’s the kind of love that God has for you. He will always invest in you, always listen to you, always be there for you. You are not disposable, you are very precious to Him and totally redeemable. He sits with you in your sadness, your pain and in your joy. He invested everything in you the day He died on the cross for you. He wants you to be the best you can be, He wants to fix you, He wants you to be just like Jesus. Because He loves you x x x x x