“When I die mummy, will I go to Hendon?” four year old Barney’s Toddler Group member to his mum!
Yesterday I was at my uncle’s funeral, he died at age 70 from cancer. I was reminded of how eight years ago I was sitting at his sister’s funeral, my mum’s, she too died from cancer at age 58. Whilst sitting there it struck me that my mum had died when she was 58, so young (even 70 is young in my mind) and now I am 13 years away from being 58 myself. My irrationality then took me off on a random thought process of “well if I am only 13 years away from being the same age as my mum when she died – oh my gosh have I only got 13 years left; and Molly is 15 now which means she is a quarter of the way there, oh my I need to encourage her to get on with her life, not waste any of it...........blah..........blah..............” It’s amazing what the enemy can taunt you with in a moment of weakness, how easy it is to be pulled into a fearful thought pattern!
I don’t want to die, but I have no fear of death, because I know it isn’t the end. Through my faith in Jesus I have this promise "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.(John 3:16). I know that there is more than this and that I will spend eternity in heaven.
We should try not to waste any of our lives. Not that we have to run around like headless chickens trying to save the universe, but we should try to live it to the full. It’s good to be mindful of the things that can steal our lives like fear, worry, stress and the more obvious things that affect the health of our bodies such as abuse of substances including food, alcohol and drugs.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) is Jesus promise to us, God sent his son to die for us so that we can be free from fear, worry, stress and other things that seek to steal our happiness and health from us.
We none of us know when it will be our turn to “go to Hendon!” However, “Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.” (Philippians 4:6).
I pray that whatever is weighing you down today, whatever is stopping you from living your life to the full, you will feel able to give it to God. That you will be able to pray, grab back from the enemy the minutes of your life that he has stolen, and feel Christ pulling your life back into perspective and comforting you.
If you have never prayed before or feel you don’t know how – please don’t add that to your fears and worries! It’s easy, you just talk to God, you don’t need any fancy words, just talk to him – either out loud or in your head, just like I am talking to you now. He loves you and longs to hear from you. And remember, nothing is too big or too small to talk to Him about.
(And another thing, He already knows, He just wants to hear it from you!)
I have just watched ‘Worlds Strictest Parents’ on BBC iplayer with tears rolling down my face through the whole thing. So many children now grow into teens and young adults who fall into bad ways because open lines of communication at home aren’t in place or are for some sad reason broken down. Being able to have an open and honest relationship with your parents is such a precious thing. A relationship in which the parents not only say but model unconditional love - “there is nothing you could ever say or do that would ever stop me loving you”.
Through no fault of her own but through her fathers’ serious illness, this teen girl’s life had been thrown into turmoil from an early age. Her parents hadn’t meant to not give her the time she needed, they loved her dearly, but the love and attention she needed had been stolen from her by her mum having to devote so much time to her ill husband. As a result, from the age of six the girl felt rejected, alone and sad and to make herself feel better had gone in search of things and people who could fill this gaping hole in her life. Thus smoking, drinking, drugs and hanging out with people, that under other circumstances she wouldn’t have even met, fulfilled her need for love and security. Her relationship with her mum and dad was one of secrets, lies and raised voices.
This all struck a very deep chord with me – and I am sure it will do with some of you. When I was a child there were many ‘conditions’ on the love I received from my parents. This led me to take a path in my younger years that I now look back on in sadness. I have felt that emptiness, tried to fill the hole in my heart with so many things that just didn’t fit and ended up filling it with many wrong things.
When I had my own children I vowed to myself that I would never love them the way I was loved. I would fight to be the kind of mum who ‘loved with an unconditional love’. Last week I had the pleasure of hearing from my eldest, “Mum, I love you, you are my best friend and I really love that I can tell you anything and you don’t judge me, just love me”. It was such an amazing honour to hear. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not the world’s best mother and still mess up as from the youngest I heard “I hate you, you never listen to me!” So the jury is out it is 50:50, but that is not going to stop me loving her just the same.
As for my longing for someone to love me with unconditional love, eight years ago after a lot of searching, I met my perfect parent. God is the Father who stepped into my life and loves me unconditionally. He loves me with an everlasting love, He knows everything about me and still loves me, He desire is to lavish love on me, He will never stop doing good to me, He encourages me, He comforts me, He wipes my tears away, He doesn’t hold grudges or throw any of my wrong doings back at me, He provides for all my needs – and so much more. In my heart was a hole that needed filling, it is in all our hearts. It’s a God shaped hole, that only God can fill.
Now knowing that I am loved unconditionally, feeling the sense of well being and security that that brings really helps me do the same. It’s always easy to pass on something you have received in buckets full yourself.
Can I encourage you to love your children unconditionally and if you don’t know how then ask God to show you. Our children deserve the best, we deserve the best and God is the best and He desires to be the best for us.
Father, thank you that there is nothing we could ever say or do that would stop you from loving us. Help us to love our children in that way. Amen
Read and see how much God loves you..................
Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. Mother Teresa
I like to think of myself a generally happy person, I don’t like being sad. Though I am sure none of us do! I don’t like seeing other people sad either. Learning, through experience, that I cannot always make them feel better (only God can do that), I can help by smiling at them, by being encouraging, telling them how wonderful they are, how special they are to me and how loved they are by God. I love putting a smile on people’s faces – sometimes it’s the only time in a day when they are told that they are appreciated and loved – and it is such an honour to be able to do that.
When faced with a negative or tough situation in life I like to fight against it, trying my best to think of all the good things and blessings I have in my life that totally counteract any bad thing that may be happening. I am not superwoman and admit there are many times when it is hard to do, but I always try; to not do so in my mind is giving in to the lies of the enemy who would have us living under a cloud all the time if he could. Life is rubbish too often. Sadly we live in a broken world where sickness, disappointment, disaster, fear and loss are apt to affect us on a regular basis. The temptation to wallow in bad situations is all too easy.
Have you heard the expression “smile and the whole world smiles with you”? It is so true. Even in tough times, taking a moment to smile at someone, putting aside your own selfish needs and wants in order to make someone else feel good, not only helps them but is medicine for your soul too. With a positive mental attitude and a smile on our faces we can challenge the way the world thinks and feels.
So, even if your world is falling apart at the moment, I challenge you to count your blessings, think of all the amazing things that have happened in your lives (don’t allow the bad stuff to erase the good from your thoughts), and then I challenge you to make others smile – all you have to do is smile at them.
‘May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favour and give you his peace.’ Numbers 6 v 24-25
Sitting on a friend’s sofa with her the other day, as she rocked her little one to sleep, she began to sing a children’s song that I haven’t hear for such a long time. Immediately I was taken back to the time I last heard it when I was a small child.
“We went to the animal fair, the birds and the beasts were there. By the light of the moon a big baboon was combing his auburn hair. The monkey fell out of his bunk and slid down the elephant’s trunk. The elephant sneezed and fell to his knees, and what became of the monkey, monkey?”
In that moment I was 8 years old again, sitting in the back of our family car singing the song, in the round, with my parents, brother and sister. It was so wonderful listening to her singing that song, such an unexpected moment of lovely warm memories.
That experience started me thinking about just how many songs remind me of life experiences, people and places.
· Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen) and I am sitting under the Christmas tree, December 1975 in my parents lounge in the dark, looking up at the coloured patterns on the ceiling made by the fairy lights on the tree.
· Wonderful Tonight (Eric Clapton) and I am dancing with my wonderful new husband at our wedding in 1993.
· She’s always a woman (Billy Joel) and I immediately think of Alice, my youngest daughter.
· Three times a lady (Commodores) my first school disco!
There are many things that trigger memories, both happy and sad: songs, smells, food, sounds. Remember, as you sing a song to your small person, cook them their favourite meal or inflict them with your favourite CD in the car; that you are nurturing the very same memories for them that you and I find ourselves enjoying. Invest in memories, create memories, enjoy memories. Get out those old vinyl records, make your favourite food, take a look at some old photos – spend some time with your memories. Memories are precious – indulge yourself and enjoy them.