Cover image for A love so big : anchoring your child to the heart of God : a parent's greatest privilege
Title:
A love so big : anchoring your child to the heart of God : a parent's greatest privilege
Author:
Walsh, Sheila, 1956-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Colorado Springs, Colo. : Waterbrook Press, [2002]

©2002
Physical Description:
227 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781578563326
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library BT140 .W35 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Enables parents to understand personal relationships with God, recounting inspirational anecdotes that are designed to help parents teach their children about character and faith.


Author Notes

Sheila Walsh was born in Ayr, Scotland in 1956. Writing books for children and adults is among her many talents. She is also a Grammy-nominated singer and speaks at the Women of Faith conferences. On television, she co-hosted The 700 Club and had her own talk show Heart to Heart with Sheila Walsh on the Family Channel. She currently lives in Texas with her husband and they have one son.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Religious books on parenting and family relationships continue to occupy a dominant position on many publishers' lists. Christian musician, speaker and writer Sheila Walsh offers A Love So Big: Anchoring Your Child to the Heart of God, arguing that it is "a parent's greatest privilege" to give children a strong sense of God's love. Little of the content is new, but Walsh writes with her characteristic humor and theological depth, drawing illustrations from her own role as mother to her young son Christian. ( Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

LOVE An Unfamiliar Face For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ROMANS 8:38-39 The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we can never give enough of is love. HENRY MILLER I was shooting a music video at the beginning of 2001. The song was the old Welsh hymn "The Love of God." My husband, Barry, and I decided that it would be good to have our four-year-old son in the video. In retrospect I wonder why. (What do they say about working with animals and children?) But Christian was very excited. "Will there be anyone else I know in the video?" he asked. "Yes, I'll be in it," I said. "I meant anyone famous like Batman or Spider-Man." "No, I don't think they'll be in the video." "Do I have to wear goofy clothes?" I showed him the two suggested outfits, and they passed his cynical eye. His part was simple. All he had to ask me was, "Mommy, how much does God love me?" The evening before the shoot Barry asked me to have several answers prepared for Christian, to give the producers a choice when they were editing the video. I sat staring at a blank sheet of paper for about an hour. When he came into my study later, he asked me what I had. "I have a list," I said. "Can I read it?" "I don't think that will be necessary!" I replied. "Please. I need to see what you have." My list of answers to "How much does God love me?" A lot. Really a lot. Good grief, what a lot! More than you can imagine. With his whole heart. "That's it?" Barry asked, eyeing bookshelves filled with Spurgeon's sermons, the writings of C. S. Lewis, Dostoevsky, and Solzhenitsyn. "Well, how do you explain the love of God to a four-year-old child?" I asked. "I don't know," he replied. "That's your job!" He was kidding ... I think. As I sat outside that night looking up at the stars, so breathtakingly beautiful in the winter air, I thought about my struggle for words. The depth of the love of God is so profound, so foreign to human experience, that the greatest hope we have to convey it to a child is to model it for them. And of course our best modeling will be so imperfect, limited, human. The day of the video shoot arrived. Christian looked up at me, cameras rolling, and asked, "Mommy, how much does God love me?" I looked into his big brown eyes. It was such a simple scripted question from a four-year-old boy, but I saw a rare spiritual moment dropped into a vast array of questions such as, "Why doesn't the cat like balloons tied to her tail?" It's one of those moments parents look for to plant eternal seeds into the fertile soil of a child's curious mind. I wanted my answer to make sense to my son, to provoke future spiritual questions. "God loves you so much, Christian. More than you could ever imagine." I silently rapped my own knuckles for providing such a vague and ethereal answer. "This much?" he asked, stretching his arms as wide as he could. "More," I responded. "This much?" he asked, his face beet red with his wholehearted effort to make his arms stretch farther. "Even more." "Is God bigger than Spider-Man?" "Well, yes. Plus, God is real, and Spider-Man is a cartoon," I said. "That's not true, Mom. I met the real Spider-Man at Universal Studios. I've never met the real God." Round one to Spider-Man. (That little exchange was edited out of the video!) Why was it so hard for me to put into words for my child the depth of the love of God? Is it simply that the love of God is so profound that it eludes human description? Or is it that my "real," day-to-day world is so familiar and ever present that the spiritual realm takes a backseat in the dialogue of my mind, a deficit that is exposed when my son asks a straightforward question infused with eternal significance? The more I thought about Christian's question, the more convinced I became that there is no more important question a child or an adult can ask, because the answer to that question is life changing; it is completely transforming. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? I thought again of the lady I mentioned in the introduction who had spent a lifetime in a religious fog, searching for what was right in front of her eyes. How is it possible to go to church all of your life and never understand the most simple, profound truth that the God of the universe loves you as you are, right now? Our churches and cathedrals are full of people just like this woman. I have been just like this woman. How sad to march in the parade of the faithful and not know the joy of festive song or even the reason we are marching. All that some of us know is we are very tired. I wonder if this is the greatest deficit in our understanding of Christianity. We accept intellectually the theological truth that salvation is by faith alone, and yet we spend the rest of our lives trying to jump through hoops in the hope that God will love us more if we're "better." We reinforce that behavior in one another by our disapproval of each other and our Pharisaical judgments. At the age of forty-four, I am utterly convinced that there is nothing you or I can do to make God love us, and there is nothing we can do to stop his loving us. It has taken me a long time to come to that acceptance, and I still yearn to understand more deeply. I constantly receive e-mails and notes from those who cannot begin to imagine that something that good could be true. I received a letter recently from a woman who told me some of the sad events and bad choices of her life. Anne's account of drug abuse, physical abuse, infidelity, rape, and abortion was harrowing to read. She is now living with her third husband, Steve, and they have rededicated their lives to Christ. But Anne is haunted by guilt and the remarks of some in her church who told her that if she really loved God, she would leave husband number three and try to find number one and remarry him. "They tell me that God does not recognize my marriage to Steve, so he will not hear my prayers. But my first husband was a drunk who beat me. What should I do? I have never really known love in my life. I should have known this new life was too good to be true." As I prayed for Anne and her husband and children, my heart ached for all of them. As I wrote to her, I wondered how often this kind of scenario is played out in our homes and churches. If we could pass on the love of God, big and boundless and free, to our children, we would give them the greatest gift a parent could ever offer. But we have to be convinced of it ourselves first. I believe the greatest challenge we face as parents is reflected in this question: How can we live out before our children a passionate belief that the love of God is so big if in the quiet rooms of our own minds we're not sure of that love ourselves? It's not possible to pass on what we do not ourselves possess. As I continued to pray for Anne and her family, I wondered how her children view God. Do they sense the judgment and weight of disapproval that she carries? When they sing "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know" in Sunday school, do they believe it? WHAT DOES GOD LOOK LIKE? I asked Christian one day what he thought God looked like. "Big. Probably bigger than a tree," he said. "Do you think he is kind?" I asked. "I think so. He made our cat, Lilly, so that was sweet of him. Although I did ask him if he could turn me into Spider-Man, and that didn't happen." "Where does he live?" I pursued. "Up there," he answered, pointing to the sky. "Near the man on the moon." Then it was his turn. "Mom, I love you more than God does!" "Well, thank you, darling, but God loves us more than we could ever love each other." "No way! I shared my marbles with you," he said. "That's true, and that was very sweet of you. Do you know what God shared with us?" I asked. "What?" "His very own son, Jesus." He thought about that for a moment. "I gave you two marbles." Christian's child-questions leap out at unexpected moments. "Why can't I see God if he can see me?" "How can he live in your heart? That's gross! Is he tiny?" How do I answer questions like that in a way that will make sense to a four-year-old with an active imagination and a nose that can sniff out uncertainty from four miles away? Our relationship with God is one of mystery and of questions with no easy answers. How do you rationally explain loving someone you can't see? How do you explain the mystery of prayer that makes room for the conundrum that at times you will ask God for something he is able to do and yet he will still say no? How do you explain death to a child? Our son lost his paternal grandmother when he was two years old and his paternal grandfather when he was almost four. His questions at age two were different than they were at age four. We told him that Nana was no longer in her bed because she was living in heaven, so Christian went to put his shoes on, assuming we could visit. I told him that we couldn't do that right now, and he accepted it. When, two years later, he and I came home alone from the hospital emergency room, he said to me, "I hate this, Mommy. Why did God take my papa? I need him more than God does." The day our son was born, the Record button was pushed. From that moment until the day he dies, his soul will record every moment. Some of the recordings will be at a conscious level and some at the subliminal level. The first three years of his life, pediatric experts say, set the foundation of many of his ideas, such as how he will form relationships, how he views himself and others, how he respects or disregards authority, and how through that framework he will then perceive God. I wonder ... have Barry and I begun to give our son a picture of God that comes anywhere near reality? A DAMAGED PICTURE I think of my own childhood. If I may indulge in a little personal history here, you can perhaps see why I have struggled most of my life to believe that God's love is based solely on who he is and not on my performance. I was born in a small town on the west coast of Scotland. My father was a traveling salesman, and my mother stayed home to raise three children. We attended a small church in the Scottish Brethren denomination, which was very strict, very conservative, and whose members at times, in my opinion, judged one another far more on outward appearance than on the condition of the heart. My father had a severe car accident, which may have contributed to the blood clot that eventually lodged in his brain, causing a massive thrombosis. My brother was a baby at the time, I was three, and my sister was five. All we knew was that Daddy was in the hospital. We didn't understand any of the ramifications of the stroke, the permanent loss of speech, the paralysis on his left side. After some time he came home. He was different. He never spoke again. A speech therapist came to the house to try to help him regain a basic vocabulary, but it was pointless. Whatever connection in the brain was necessary for her attempts to make sense to him was permanently severed. I have very few memories of the next few months. I know from my mother that my dad's personality began to change, and he became violent at times. Eventually, after those incidents became severe and he turned his rage on me and on my mother, he was removed from our home. He died a few months later in a psychiatric hospital. All I understood in the aftermath was that my dad was gone. I didn't attend a funeral or visit a gravesite; Daddy just never came home again. From that time until I was about eleven, I don't remember very much. My personality changed. I went from being a daredevil tomboy to being quiet and reserved, dinging to my mother for dear life. However, I remember one night in 1967, when I was eleven years old, that eternally changed my life. An evangelistic music group from Edinburgh called The Heralds held a concert at our local cinema. Our family went. At the end of the evening, Ian Leitch, the evangelist, spoke for a few moments about the importance of a personal relationship with God. I remember his saying, "God has no grandchildren, only sons and daughters." He emphasized the necessity to choose to love God yourself; a personal relationship with Christ didn't happen by osmosis just because someone in your family believed. Several people went to the front of the theater that evening to be prayed for. I didn't. I was too shaken up by Leitch's message and convinced that my legs no longer had the power to move. Later that night when I was at home in bed, the evangelist's words rang over and over in my head. Finally I went back downstairs and asked my mom if she would pray with me as I asked Jesus to come live in my heart and be my Savior forever. That night I became a Christian. I didn't understand very much, but I believed that God had heard my prayer and that he loved me. I will never forget that wonderful moment. Unfortunately, my frame of reference for love, for relationship, for security was badly scarred by my experience with my dad, and I transferred those images to my heavenly Father. At some primal level I believed that no one is completely safe, no one loves you forever. I determined to be the perfect Christian. I was driven not simply to please God because he loved me and I loved him; rather, I wanted to make sure that he wouldn't stop loving me. I was convinced that my behavior influenced God's heart toward me, so I tried very hard to please him in every way. Continue... Excerpted from A Love so BIG by Sheila Walsh Copyright © 2002 by Sheila Walsh Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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