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Posts Tagged ‘grandson’

I enjoy board games—well, many of them anyway. My sister and I grew up playing endless rounds of Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, Chinese Checkers, Draughts and Monopoly, not to mention Dominos, Pick Up Sticks and a little quiz game called ‘Tell Me’. There were card games too—children’s ones at first such as Donkey, Old Maid, Comic Families and good old Snap, then, later, Coon Can, Euchre and Five Hundred. What fun!

Nowadays, however, children’s games somehow seem to have become trickier—for me at least! Our two younger grandchildren still enjoy their Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Dominos and Donkey, but, well … what sort of person would think up such annoying, confusing games as one our ten-year-old grandson introduced me to recently called ‘Exploding Kittens’?! Ugh!

Zain is good at explaining the rules of games and did his best this time around, then patiently continued helping me. Yet it seemed that, whatever card I chose to throw out, something worse happened to me, until our grandson could block my every move. And, of course, I ended up becoming the victim of that dreaded ‘exploding kitten’!

At least this experience was marginally better than the time a few weeks ago when Zain tried to teach me how to play chess. We gave him his chess set for Christmas—and, suddenly, he has taken to it in a big way, strategically plotting his moves ahead of time. Meanwhile, I had to be told over and over the names of the various pieces and what they are allowed and not allowed to do! No wonder I ended up cornered in this game as well, with nowhere to go.  

At times, life can be like that too, can’t it? For whatever reason, sometimes we find ourselves in a real-life board game situation where we can feel quite cornered, even powerless, with very few options available to us. Perhaps we end up stuck in some exhausting job or ongoing argument or draining relationship or debilitating health challenge where there seems to be no way out. And that can be very hard indeed.

I remember a time years ago when I was employed in a demanding teaching job which left me feeling exhausted and trapped. I knew I had to keep going to help pay our mortgage at the time, but each Sunday, my heart sank, as I thought of the week ahead. In the end, God graciously provided a way out for me and into an editing job I loved. Yet it does not always happen like that, does it? Sometimes in life, there is no way of escape provided. Instead, we have to press on, doing our best to remain positive, as we look to God for the strength and courage we need. And God is surely right there beside us and in us, comforting and encouraging us, even as we walk through those deep, dark valleys—and will be forever.

Whatever your situation and however cornered you feel right now, I pray you will sense our strong Shepherd’s hand on your shoulder today and know again his deep love and compassion for you.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. Psalm 23:4 NLT

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Some mornings can go smoothly, as we set out to conquer whatever the day may hold for us, can’t they? Then there are other mornings when we may think we have plenty of time to get ready and be wherever we need to be or take children wherever we need to take them, yet, at the last minute, everything unravels.

This happened to our daughter recently, as she hurried to take the children to school on her way to work. She knows our grandson hates the sound of the kitchen blender—he has ADHD and finds it hard to cope with such a noise at that time in the morning. Usually, she makes sure he is somewhere else before she uses it, but this time, she was in a hurry and a huge meltdown ensued.

When they finally arrived at the school gates, our grandson was still very unhappy and angry, but apparently calmed down and made it through the day. And that night, he apologised to his mum, without even having to be prompted. But I loved how our daughter then talked more about it all with him in a calm, reasoned way. She asked him what he thought she should do to help him calm down and not be so angry, next time something like this happened. Would there be a code word she could use that would remind him she is on his side? He soon thought of one and, hopefully, this will indeed help next time! Yet, whatever happens, I believe she gave our grandson the most important gift ever through the wonderful, merciful, forgiving message contained in those four simple, little words she said to him, ‘I’m on your side!’

Our grandson knows his mother loves him unreservedly. He knows she has advocated for him so much through the years at school, where judgments and misunderstandings of his behaviour have abounded at times. He knows she will always be there for him and believe in him. And he loves her deeply in return. But sometimes, when his impulses get the better of him, he forgets all that in an instant, loses control and fights her. And so, time and time again, she asks him how she can help him better and reminds him, with such love and grace, ‘I’m on your side.’

And that, to me, is exactly what God has said and still says to us all each day. In sending Jesus Christ to live amongst us and die for us, God declared in no uncertain terms, ‘I’m on your side! I love you. I am for you, not against you! Yes, your wrongdoing matters so much—it has separated you from me and spoilt our relationship. But come, believe in my son, receive my love and forgiveness and let me welcome you with open arms into my family—forever!’

Every day, it fills me with such joy and relief to know God is watching over me, strengthening me and restoring me when I fail. I may forget and fight that love, just as our grandson does at times, yet God is still there for me and on my side—forever.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

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Zain four days oldIt has been six years since I last held a newborn baby. In that time, I seem to have forgotten how tiny and how amazing these little people are. So imagine my awe today as I held our new little grandson, Zain, for the first time!

Now of course he is the most gorgeous baby boy there has ever been. He has the cutest little face and lovely, long fingers and toes, despite his weighing only a little over three kilo. But that’s nothing compared to his ears! You see, because Zain’s father is Ghanaian, this little one has a lovely dark tinge to his skin. So at present, each little fold of his ears is a different, dusky shade somewhere between black and white. For all the world, as our older daughter commented, it looks as if this little one can’t quite decide which colour he wants to be right now!

But as I examined our new little man more carefully, I realised the same awe was welling up inside me that I had felt when our own children were born. All those years ago, I remember looking down at each of them, overwhelmed at our God who could create such a beautiful, perfect, intricately made little human being and enable this little one to develop and grow right inside me, entering this world through my own body. What an amazing, overwhelming act of creativity from an amazingly creative God!

Yet more than that, here I was holding a new little person created in the image of God, so full of promise and with all sorts of inbuilt potential for doing amazing things in the years to come. And I was overwhelmed all over again with the incredible privilege of it all and the depth of trust God had shown in us as parents to give this new little one into our care.

So at this time, what do I pray for my daughter and her husband and their new little one? Well, I pray for them as parents that they will walk closely with God throughout their lives, modelling God’s love and grace and forgiveness to little Zain. I pray they will be filled with God’s wisdom and listen to the guidance of the Spirit within them in all the decisions ahead of them in his upbringing. And I pray for Zain, that he will grow up to be a strong man of God, living a life of compassion, creativity, honour and integrity and becoming all God purposes him to be.

But how amazing and reassuring it is to realise that our God who created him and knew him even before he was born also knows all about what the years ahead will hold for him. In Psalm 139:13-16 we read:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

So Lord, may our Zain pray those words one day for himself. May they rise up from a heart full of reverence and love for you. May this little one who has been created in your image and likeness be conformed more and more to your image in the years ahead. And may your beautiful, gracious and creative heart flow out of him, bringing new life and new hope to many. Amen

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