Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kill them with kindness!

My Dad always used to say “...kill them with kindness Sally” and it is something that has stuck with me. A kind gentle word can defuse all kinds of awful, ugly situations. A simple expression of love can melt any act of anger or hatred. Words spoken in love can bolster a broken spirit and heal broken hearts. A look of pride, a display of joy can change the atmosphere in a room full of people. How you say or do something is crucial to how it is received by the other party involved.

It says in Ephesians 4:32 “Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”

We live in a world that is so broken, a world that openly accepts blame culture and is now moving into such a litigious state that soon I wouldn’t be surprised if someone broke a finger nail they may call ‘Injurylawers4U’ and sue God for it!

And all this bitterness, anger and disrespect that people carry around with them against others, because whatever happened wasn’t their fault, is making a society that is permanently angry. I was chatting to a wise ‘older’ woman yesterday at Barney’s who said to me that in her experience of watching children grow over the past 50 years, she noticed that a large proportion of them displayed the same kind of demeanour as their parents, it is a learnt behaviour. If their parents were the type to be stressed most of the time, then their children had grown up to be similar; if the parents were anxious, then their children tended to be anxious; if the parents had little self respect, then it seemed so with the children as they grew; if the parents were laid back, then their children were laid back. I had to say that I agreed with her and it made me think about what we are subconsciously passing on to our children. In this culture that we live in, are we encouraging our children to become the next generation of bitter and angry people who feel everything wasn’t their fault and the world owes them a living; or are we taking responsibility for our actions and acting towards other people as God would have us do, by being gentle, sensitive and forgiving.

Did you know that kindness is a drug? It gives you a far better kick than chocolate! Disrespect, rudeness, incivility, and a lack of kindness have become a serious problem. You will be hard pressed to ever go a day in your life when you won't meet someone that doesn't need a kind word. This week I had quite a few occasions where I had the privilege to thank someone for what they had done for me; give someone who wasn’t feeling on top form a hug and kind words; to encourage someone who wasn’t feeling all that confident about something they had to do; and tell someone I was proud of them. Some of these people were total strangers, people with whom I had no relationship, yet it was fantastic to be able to speak positivity into their lives. Not only did improve their situation, but it gave me a lovely warm feeling inside, I felt incredibly blessed. It was the kind of feeling that money can’t buy and I am pretty sure should be prescribed for certain depressive illnesses. It is impossible, not to be unbelievably blessed when somebody sends a kind deed or a kind word your way. Remember this saying and kill someone with kindness. You really can do that with people. You can kill animosity, bitterness, anger, and hard feelings with just a little kindness.


Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hold my hand and we will do this together........

I was teaching this morning at the Family Craft Morning on how when we are scared we just have to turn to God, because he is bigger than any fear we can be facing and He says to us ‘I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you’ in the book of Isaiah 41:13 (TNIV).

As I spoke I asked one of the children to come and hold my hand and in that moment I was struck with just what a powerfully comforting feeling it is holding someone’s hand.

I got to thinking of how many times my girls have, and still do, slip their hand into mine in order for me to guide them and for them to feel protected; and how often I slip my hand into my husband’s when I am feeling a bit vulnerable in a social situation.

What a privilege it is to have our children trust us so much that they feel reassured by just holding our hand and also what an honour it is to be able to guide them in such an intimate way. I am sure we have all used hand holding as a control measure, when we are crossing the road or in a busy shopping centre where we don’t want to lose our children, quite possibly never really understanding what a powerful sign of love and protection it is to those whose hand we are holding.

So just think how powerful it is to know that God wants to hold our hand; that just as we reach our hand out to our children, so He reaches out His hand to us His children and says ‘Do not fear, I will help you’.

If you are in fear of something today, just reach out, God will take your hand and guide you through whatever it is – it may not be a smooth journey, or an enjoyable one, but with God by your side you will get through it. God says to us “Hold my hand, we will do this together!”.

Father God, thank you that you are not a distant God because you are by our side all the time. Remind us to reach out to you when times are tough because we know that You will take our right hand and help us through the scary moment, let’s do this together. Praise You Father, Amen.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Love and Support

God has opened my eyes wider this week to something really precious to me: the gift of belonging to a community and all the benefits that brings in the form of friendships, accountability, love and support.

Many of us these days live far away from our families, those who would naturally provide our community and support system. London is a place where, unless you are born there, is generally where people come to live specifically for work. At Barney’s of the 150 members we have people from all over the world as well as all over Great Britain.

I think I am possibly one of the few born and bred Londoners at Barney’s; I was born in Hackney, East London and spend my childhood in Enfield. But I am the last of my family to remain in London, they have all moved away, mainly to Hertfordshire, which isn’t far, but far enough. I am married to Steve who is from Dundee in Scotland, where his family remains. So even for me, a Londoner, my natural support system is distant.

Some of you may not know the background to my leading Barney’s. 10 years ago I joined Barney’s, I too was a victim of the dreaded waiting list, but it was so worth it when I finally got a place and became a member. My own children were at school by this point and I was a childminder. I had tried toddler groups with my girls, but found all the ones I visited just never fitted me, some were unwelcoming, others cliquey and some were in grotty church halls and lacked life. They didn’t bless or enhance my life in any way.

The first child I minded was Sara’s eldest child, Mike. She recommended Barney’s to me as she knew about it because she was a member of St Bs. So I went along to Barney’s expecting to find the same as I had found everywhere else, but was pleasantly surprised, mainly by the coffee but there was something there that I couldn’t put into words. From the moment I walked in I felt welcome, comfortable, relaxed and at home. So to hear I had to go on a waiting list was a bit sad and eventually when I got a place it was to bring Sara’s second son, Tom (who is now 11).

Being a member of Barney’s saved my life, as a parent of young children there are days when you feel you are just stumbling from one disaster to another, it is confusing and joyful at the same time, the pressure you feel under to be a good parent and do the right thing for your child is intense and as the milestones pass by you wonder if what you have done is good enough. This is when you need your support system, someone to affirm you in your parenting, someone to hug you when you are having a bad day, someone to listen when you want to let off steam, someone to tell you they love you, someone to offer to babysit, someone to help you look for a nursery or school place – someone to share the ups and downs of parenting a small person. And that is what I found at Barney’s, I made some amazing friends, met some wonderful women and men, all of us in the same boat, all of us needing each other and everyone willing to give their time to each other to help and support each other. I think you call it a family!

I immediately gained grandparents, aunts and uncles, sisters and brothers and was accepted and loved into the Barney’s family. A year after joining Barney’s I became a Christian, and joined St Barnabas Church as a member, a year after that was asked if I would like the privilege of taking on the leadership of Barney’s. I couldn’t refuse, I loved Barney’s and so wanted for it to be able to give to others what I had received when I had become a member. My saying of 'once a Barney’s member always a Barney’s member’ is kind of a selfish one in a way, because I have an incredible fondness for all the families I have met through Barney’s and have spent many a wonderful time chatting with them and having the privilege to share in their lives that I want to maintain that relationship. So when I say, drop in for a cup of coffee any time – I really mean it, I find it really sad when people leave and I have to say goodbye to a friend.

When I took on the leadership of Barney’s I prayed “Lord help me to maintain what you have built here through the previous leaders, what I have benefitted from so greatly and what long to pass on to others” and that is my prayer still. Being a member of the Barney’s family and gaining the gift of belonging to a community and all the benefits that brings in the form of friendships, accountability, love and support is so precious. I love meeting you all, I love hanging out with you all, I love being able to share my ups and downs with you and to do the same with you. To me Barney’s is so much more than a toddler group, you are my family, my friends and I want to thank you all so much for being there for me and as St Paul says in the book of Philippians

“Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart.” Philippians 1:3-4

I love you all x x x x x x x

Saturday, 7 May 2011


Picture the scene, Friday morning 7.25am:

“Mum, I need £3 for a French play today” Alice announces just she is about to leave for school.

“Oh and Mum” says Molly, “I need two sets of acrylic paints and a wonderwoman T shirt”

“You what?” I reply.

“I think I can handle the £3” I lie, knowing full well I don’t have a penny in my purse and will have to go and ask Steve if he has any cash, “when do you need the paint and t shirt for?”

“Paints for Monday for GCSE art and T shirt for Drama GCSE on Wednesday” replies Molly.

I stand there wondering if it is indeed me who needs the wonderwoman T shirt right at that very moment!

I try to stay calm at the lastminute.mum requests, considering it is Friday morning; I will be at work all day (squeezing in at 4.30pm a visit to the Post Office to get Molly’s CRB verified and three haircuts, so no window for shopping there), Saturday we are attending my nephew’s ‘naming day’ and Sunday is never a good day for shopping for me, plus where on earth do you start looking for a wonderwoman T shirt!

The very idea of forward planning is not in a teenagers psyche; Molly has known the dates of all her exams for a couple of months now and surely would have known what she needed for them. So I smile, take a deep breath, find Steve and relieve him of £3. Then turn on my computer and Google wonderwoman T shirts. Praise God for Amazon and their special delivery service, a little more than I would have wanted to pay for a wonderwoman T shirt (if I had ever really wanted one!), but job done. Now just to hope that I don’t have to trek to Hatfield Galleria to buy more paint, which I could squeeze in on Sunday (but would rather not!), think I will fly by Tiger on the High Road first, they don’t generally let me down! I can squeeze that in on Saturday morning on the way to the naming day.

OK, ‘supermum’ status has been restored; plans have been made, time to send my gorgeous girls off to school.

“Oh and Mum, sorry just remembered, my teacher asked me to sing in the leavers concert next Friday and I need a backing track for ‘Someone like you’ by Adele.” says Molly as I kiss her goodbye for school, “I love you Mum!” she adds, as I weakly smile and scream inside! It’s just as well she is so adorable.

And off they trot to school without a care in the world, because they have just dumped them all on me, and off I trot, back to Google for Adele backing tracks. Think I will have a cup of tea and pray first, to bolster up my spirit and commit the rest of my day to the Lord, lastminute.mum sure takes it out of me!

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Thessalonians 5:16-18 (New Living Translation)

Jesus, thank you that you bring peace to my world, peace in my heart, peace in my mind. Guide me today, steer me safely round any other last minute things thrown in my way today. I love you Lord. Amen