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Posts Tagged ‘the Father’s love’

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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Jo 12Our grandson has a wonderful way of keeping me humble—and this skill of his came to the fore recently when I tried to help him complete his Maths homework. He is only in Year 2, yet sadly I had great trouble understanding some of the questions he had to answer about shapes. What on earth were ‘cuboids’, ‘vertices’ and ‘edges’? I had no idea!

‘I don’t think you have that answer right,’ I told Zain at one stage, as I stared at the cube alongside the first question. ‘I think it has six edges.’

‘No,’ he told me firmly. ‘You’re counting the faces, not the edges!’

I was unconvinced, but decided to go along with him. We counted those edges together and somehow I came up with eight, while he found twelve—or was it sixteen? Another interesting discussion ensued but, in the end, he wrote down my answer of eight. Later, we wrote the same answer for a cuboid—which of course Zain knew straight away was a rectangular prism! Surely everyone knows that, his look implied.

We proceeded then to travel through what for me was the even rockier, more dangerous territory of cylinders and cones and square-based triangles. But when it came to answering an interesting question about whether cylindrical shapes could be stacked, we differed again. While Zain maintained they could not, if they were lying with their curved surfaces lengthwise, as they were on his homework sheet, I maintained they could if they were standing upright on their flat bases. In the end, I felt Zain worked out a clever answer to this one—‘Maybe!’

Eventually, I enlisted my mathematician husband’s help and asked him to check our work. And guess what his first comment was?

‘You have two answers wrong here!’

Yes, I had been wrong about those ‘edges’—and Zain had, I think, been right from the beginning. But, when I told Zain this, to add insult to injury, he responded: ‘Well, you’re just an old lady!’

Now that put me firmly in my place.

Later, as I pondered Zain’s words, I decided that, while I may be ‘just an old lady’ to him—and there is nothing wrong with being an ‘old lady’—I know I am more than that too. I have done many things in my life. I have two tertiary degrees and a couple of diplomas. I have worked in a variety of occupations, including high school teacher, editor and pastor. I have written eight books. I have spoken publicly well over two hundred times in recent years. Along with my pastor husband, I have raised three children. I have had an interesting and varied life and am grateful for that.

But the best thought that came to me was this. Even if I had done none of that in my life, I would still be of such worth in God’s eyes. Whatever my age, I am still God’s precious child. Through Jesus, I have been born again into God’s family. I belong to God. Jesus loves me, this I know.

That’s what really counts in the end, don’t you think?

How great is the 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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Jo 12I can’t quite put my finger on why, but something interesting happens to me whenever I walk into a Bunnings store. Of course, that friendly aroma of sausages cooking outside the main entrance is always enticing! But besides that, there seems to be some sort of inviting sense of creativity and of making things better or brighter or tidier that sets my heart and mind buzzing whenever I walk in the door. Somehow I feel at home—as if I belong. And there are so many interesting things to discover in those never-ending aisles. What could this or that be? Who would ever use or need that? Somebody must!

Recently, I went there to buy a gift card. I lingered much longer than I needed to, walking up and down several aisles and thinking of my dad as I did. My dad was a great handyman, always fixing things around our house when I was a child. His workshop was in the cool under our Brisbane ‘house on stilts’, where he fashioned all sorts of intriguing things. Occasionally too, he would try his hand at bigger projects, such as building a sun deck on top of our garage. But his greatest passion was our garden, where he worked tirelessly. If he were still with us, I suspect Bunnings would be akin to heaven for him.

On this same visit, I inevitably made my way towards the gardening section. Surely I could fit one more nice pot plant on our balcony? On my way, I passed aisles stacked with bags of potting mix, compost and moist garden soil—and immediately their unmistakeable aromas brought back more memories of my dad working in our garden. Eventually, I reached aisles filled with different seedlings and pots containing a range of beautiful flowers, including gerberas—my dad’s speciality. In fact, way back before gerberas became popular in bouquets, Dad managed to create a hardy, double gerbera variety of his own, with pretty pale pink and yellow blooms.

Then it dawned on me to wonder whether that sense of belonging I often feel at Bunnings may have something to do with those childhood memories of my dad, tinkering away at his work bench under our house or labouring in the back yard in the hot sun. Such memories from years ago are powerful, aren’t they? Whatever my father’s failings—and they were there, alongside many positives—I knew I belonged in my childhood home, where I was always loved and well cared for.

Recently, I was minding our four-year-old granddaughter when she suddenly stopped playing, sat still for a moment, then began to sing the following in such a cute voice, as she looked up at me with her big, brown eyes:

In my Father’s house
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
*

My heart melted. Yes, my earthly family may no longer be here, but I know I am part of the family of God and that I belong in my amazing heavenly Father’s house. I prayed Maxine would always know this too, deep in her heart—and I pray you do too.

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

Who You Say I Am Hillsong Worship

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