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Posts Tagged ‘grandparents minding grandchildren’

Jo 12My husband and I are entering an extra busy period of our lives this week. Yes, we are yet to discover what that interesting word ‘retirement’ means! Two things are happening simultaneously that should help keep us both out of mischief for the next few months at least.

The first is that, to help our daughter and her husband out, we will be caring for their two young children a little more than we do already. Various things have happened for them in quick succession—the selling of their unit in western Sydney, the buying of a house even further west and also a new accountancy job in the city for our son-in-law, which means he will be unable to pick up our grandchildren from school and day care as much as he has previously.

But the second commitment we have agreed to is to take on a support role at our local church, assisting the ministry team while our two team leaders (husband and wife) are on sabbatical leave. To do this, we have each promised to be available in our church office one day a week to help with different aspects of our church life, particularly in the pastoral care area.

Obviously, these two commitments, while quite different, will no doubt require a fair amount of energy on our part. I am sure God wants us to undertake both ventures, but at times, I must admit I have allowed more than a little anxiety about what we have taken on to creep in. Will we have the energy and strength to see it all through? Will it be too overwhelming? Will I ever get any time to myself to continue writing that next novel I truly want to complete? What if our church commitment in particular grows out of all proportion to the hours we have available in our busy week?

In the midst of these rather fearful thoughts, I ‘happened’ to come to some interesting verses in one of Paul’s letters where he addresses some quarrelling and jealousy that had emerged among the early Corinthian believers. Apparently there was a good deal of ‘one-upmanship’ going on, where some claimed they followed Paul, while others stated they followed Apollos. Paul rebukes them for their worldly way of thinking and points out that both he and Apollos were simply God’s servants doing the tasks they had been given—he to plant the seed and Apollos to water it. But without God, nothing would have taken place among them.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6

I read on, slowly realising why God had arranged for me to read these words at this strategic point.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3:9

Yes, Lord, I get the message. It is our role simply to cooperate and work hand in hand with you in the tasks you have called us to do. And what a partner we have—the almighty God of the universe! As for those at our church, you will continue to nurture them and build them up in their faith, whatever happens. You are in charge, not us!

Lord, may I always remember that. Amen

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Maxine and glassesI had just picked up our two youngest grandchildren from day care and was making sure we had everything. Two large backpacks? Tick. Two lunch boxes? Tick. Two water bottles? Tick. Two jumpers? Tick. Two lots of shoes and socks? Well … almost. Only one pair of socks missing this time around—not too bad. Two children signed out? Tick. So off we headed to the car.

I managed to get everything in safely, children included, and drove off. A few minutes later, we were home. I proceeded to collect my own bags and get out of the car. My next task was to undo three year old Zain’s seat harness and steer him around the car onto the footpath, then inspire him to stand still while I put his bag on his back.

‘What a great help you are to Nanna!’ I told him, as he obliged.

Then it was Maxine’s turn to be extricated from her car seat. I decided she could walk the short distance to their apartment, so went to hold her hand and pick up both her bag and mine. But she was having none of it. At eighteen months, she managed to convey to me in no uncertain terms that she wanted to carry her own backpack, thank you very much! The only trouble was, it was not only about as big as she was but also rather heavy.

For a few moments, Maxine managed to stand upright, then—whoop—over she went backwards! It would have been funny if it wasn’t just that little bit cruel. Of course, I tried to take the bag off her—but she was having none of that either. She hung onto it for dear life and yelled! All I could do was walk along slowly beside her, trying to steady her and help when she fell backwards yet again.

As I thought about this later, I began to wonder how many times I have done something similar in my own adult life. How often have I tried to carry a big, pink backpack that was far too heavy for me? How often have I rejected help, wanting to do it all by myself? Have often have I turned a deaf ear to God’s gentle voice, showing me a better way ahead, offering me a much lighter load? How often have I worried and stressed too much over things when God was right there to ease my burden?

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

I wonder if, right now, some of you might be in a place of needing to take off that heavy load that is making you struggle and stumble. Is it time for you to take Jesus’ outstretched hand and allow him to help you move forward in his strength rather than your own?

May your load soon be much lighter as you journey on with Jesus. And may you—and I—carry just what he gives us. No more and no less.

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P1040005Our grandson discovered an exciting new pastime at Nanna’s and Granddad’s this week—washing up! He did it as if his life depended on it—he washed those plates and cups of his at least twenty times over. I could not help but smile when I saw his look of deep concentration as he went about the task at hand. Obviously, Zain felt quite important and was determined to do the best job he could.

Afterwards, we read one of his favourite books, Noah and the Big Boat, together. When we had finished, Zain opened the book again, pointed to something on the page and nodded wisely.

‘That’s God!’ he said in a very definite tone.

I looked and saw he meant Noah, depicted in this book as a man with white hair and a long, white beard. Not wanting to endorse a stereotype many people still seem to hold about God, I hastily corrected him.

But our little man was not daunted.

‘That’s God!’ he said then, pointing to one of Noah’s son’s working on building the ark.

When I again shook my head, he changed his mind and pointed to one of the women carrying water to the men.

At that point, I realised I had failed big time in communicating who God is. I had blundered on, all the while assuming his little two-year-old mind would somehow understand what I meant. But no—the concept seemed beyond him.

‘No, that’s not God either,’ I floundered. ‘You can’t see God anywhere.’

Even as the words left my mouth, I sensed how inadequate they were. There was no opportunity to continue the conversation, however—our Zain had run off to the latest thing that had captured his attention. All I could do was try to be a little clearer about who God is next time we read the book.

But then I began to think more about what Zain had said. No, Noah was not God—but God could be seen in him and in the way he lived his life. In Genesis 6:9, we read:

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

In the midst of the corrupt world around him, Noah stayed true to God and ‘found favour in the eyes of the Lord’ (Genesis 6:8).

Even though Zain has a few misconceptions about God right now, I hope, when he grows up, that he exhibits the same zeal for the things of God as Noah did. I hope he gives his all to follow God’s ways, with the same wholeheartedness I saw in the way he tackled that washing up. Yes, that’s only a little thing and he’s only a little child right now. But as I looked at Zain at that kitchen sink, I caught a glimpse of God in him in his beautiful appearance as well as in the way he approached his task. And I also caught a glimpse of the man of God he could become—strong and determined for the Lord.

May others see more and more of God in our Zain in the years ahead.

May others see more and more of God in me as I seek to walk with God, just as Noah did.

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