Finding God in the wilderness


As I write this, God has been leading me into the wilderness again, so it is fitting that my thoughts turn to Psalm 63, written by David when he too, found himself in the wilderness.

What impresses me about Psalm 63 is the way in which David recalls moments when he has seen God’s power and glory. In fact, it was God Himself that he saw in in the house of worship.(Psalm 63:2-5).

I wonder what it was that David saw? And when have I seen evidence of God’s power and glory in my life?

I vividly recall the time that I, along with other leaders in the church I was pastoring were called to the bedside of a young expectant Mum who was in the beginnings of suffering a miscarriage.

Humanly speaking it seemed impossible that she would carry her child full term.

But we gathered around her hospital bed, held hands and prayed.

I confess that my faith was weak and I left the hospital fully expecting a call later that day to say that she had lost her baby.

But she didn’t and she gave birth a few months later to a very healthy boy!

It was certainly a demonstration of God’s power, if not His glory.

But as I said previously, David says that He saw God in the sanctuary (Psalm 63:2). I take this to mean that God Himself was the One that David sought – the One we also seek in our wilderness times – and that this was a greater blessing by far than His acts of power and glory.

So right there in the wilderness, David chooses to both praise and rejoice in God. His will be a life of constant praise and of giving glory to God with his words and songs. And the reason for all of this is a quite remarkable statement in verse three:

“Because your love is better than life…”

To know the love of God in your life and the peace, comfort and security this brings is a greater gift than life itself, even in the wilderness.

“God Himself is enough for me and my soul is satisfied.”(Psalm 63:5)

But being in the wilderness is never a fun experience. I have had many times where I have doubted God’s presence – “Are you really with me, Lord?”

Times I have doubted His goodness – “Why this, at this time, Lord?”

Times I have doubted His power – “Are you really going to heal me?”

But the message of David through Psalm 63 is fairly straightforward to me as I walk through this wilderness time.

I can choose to live a life of constant praise to my Father and to thank Him every day.

I can choose to live my life for His glory and to rest in the peace, comfort and security of God’s love for me.

I know that is easier said than done. When you are feeling emotionally exhausted, that perhaps you have become lost in this wilderness and might never find your way out, the idea of resting in the assurance of God’s love seems like a cruel joke.

But here is what I have discovered.

While it seems as if He is not there (I have felt this many times), my Father has consistently reminded me of His presence with me, even if I cannot “feel” it.

Sometimes it is a promise of Scripture: ” Fear not, I am with you…”

Or it has come through the encouragement, prayers, loyal love and faith of my wife, Karen.

And I have seen His presence in the love and support of colleagues and friends who have simply asked me how I am going.

So here, in the wilderness, I find I am able to tell God how much I love Him, thanking Him for every good gift in my life and for teaching me again about humility and my need to depend utterly upon Him.

In this my soul is satisfied – in and with God Himself.

He is enough…

True intimacy means sharing your burdens


Everyone comes into a marriage carrying emotional and relational baggage.

A skit performed in a church in the United States illustrated this by showing the young couple taking their vows while having heavy burdens labelled guilt, insecurity and fear draped over their bodies. When it came time to “kiss the bride” they were unable to do so – “how can you hold someone when you are carrying so much baggage on your arms?”

What do we do with the baggage?

Pretend it’s not there?

Hope that we lose it at the airport of life?

Expect our partner to carry it?!

Solomon gave some very helpful advice about how we might handle our baggage when he wrote:

“Two are better than one, *because they have a good return for their labour:
If either of them falls down,*one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls*and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.*But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,*two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

In the world in which Solomon lived, people would often travel at night but the journey was dangerous. There was the risk of violent robbery and, at night, falling into deep ditches carved out through the constant wear and tear of travellers and the weather upon the road.

Only if you travelled travel with someone could you be sure someone would immediately help you out.

It has been my experience in marriage that when I share my burdens – notice that I did not say dump my burdens – my wife Karen will listen to me, encourage me and pray for me.

And when this happens, I am incredibly aware of both the truth and the comfort of having a true friend beside me and who is able to lift me out of whatever emotional ditch I may have fallen into.

And of course, I do the same for Karen.

This is what true intimacy in marriage is all about.

It is the assurance that the person closest to you will listen to you when you are in trouble and not judge or reject you.

It is the confidence of knowing that there is someone traveling with you on the road of life and they will always be there for you.

Gordon MacDonald likens it to traveling through life in “the company of a happy few” – that as husband and wife you experience the joy and delight of not just being lovers, but true friends as well.

More poetically, Michael Card describes it this way:

Home is where someone is waiting and loving
And happy to see you again,
That half of your heart that somebody else treasures
The one who’s your forever friend.

We all have baggage and we do bring it into our relationships.

Some of us are unaware of our baggage and for some of us, it may take a lifetime to be rid of it.

Which is why it is much better to share the load with someone else.

How sad it is to see couples who have been married for decades but have never come to the place of truly being able to help each other out of the ditches of life.

One more thing.

Solomon spoke of the “cord of three strands.”

How much stronger is the couple that not only supports each other in tough times but also relies on God’s everlasting and unfailing strength, grace and encouragement!?

The truth about intimacy


HOW would you define intimacy? In a world drowning in social media, reality TV and an endless stream of advice on sexual fulfilment, it’s a good question to ask.

I came across a good answer several years ago which defined intimacy as:
Knowing and being known
Loving and being loved
Serving and being served
Forgiving and being forgiven

It captures the essence of intimacy because it puts it in terms of the other person. There is a clear intent to know the other person deeply, love them unconditionally, serve them sacrificially and to freely forgive them when it is required.

True intimacy in a relationship also fosters other traits.

When a couple bond together in intimacy, when they become “one”, they have courage to face life together. Solomon said that “two are better than one”, going on to describe the peril of falling into a pit on your own. Sharing life with another brings the security of knowing that they are there for you in difficult times – you can both face whatever life throws at you together, courageously!

It also encourages the gift of love that chooses. I am so grateful to my wife, Karen, who held out her heart to me early in our relationship and basically said, “This is who I am – will you love me?”

And I did the same with her. And we both chose to love each other, despite our failings and weaknesses.

Love that chooses is a precious gift indeed. Honesty is also the fruit of true intimacy.

Genesis says that Adam and Eve both stood before each other “naked and not ashamed”.

The nakedness spoken of here is spiritual, mental, psychological and physical nakedness.

What freedom there is when you can stand before another without wearing any masks, to be truly “naked” before them and to feel no shame!

And what happiness we cheat ourselves of when we simply interpret such a statement as referring only to the physical!

Christopher and Rachel McCluskey explain it well when they write:

“…it is important that husbands and wives enjoy intimacy without necessarily needing to be sexual, and because (unfortunately) husbands and wives are often sexual without being intimate…there is a world of difference between simply having sex and truly making love. The world uses these phrases interchangeably and, indeed, the acts themselves are the same. But the spirit of making love is entirely different from simply having sex.”

Not surprisingly, this leads to greater depths of intimacy between the couple who are prepared to take the path of truly knowing each other.

What a wonderful thought lies behind this idea of truly knowing someone!

You may be familiar with the term, “…he knew his wife…” and which is so often viewed from a sexual standpoint.

But the same word is also used to describe a person as “knowing God”. The concept speaks of knowing someone “thoroughly and deeply”.

Intimate couples are those who know each other thoroughly and deeply – they seek to know the other person and they in return, feel thoroughly known.

There are things I know about Karen that no one else has ever known and never will know. And it is the same for me with her.

In our seeking to know and be known by each other we have built security, understanding and deep love.

One of the greatest gifts Karen has ever given to me was the day she said to me, “I feel safe with you!”

Please don’t be under any illusions about what I am saying here. The path to true intimacy is filled with pain, tears, hard times and frustration but I would not exchange it for what so many settle for – a shallow existence with someone they barely know.

Far better to embrace the One who made you for intimacy and the one that you call husband or wife.?

Dance with me!


THE HIT SONG Shut up and dance captures the wonder and excitement of a blossoming romance:

We were victims of the night
The chemical, physical, kryptonite
Helpless to the bass and the fading light
Oh we were bound to get together
Bound to get together
She took my arm
I don’t know how it happened
We took the floor and she said
Oh don’t you dare look back
Just keep your eyes on me
I said you’re holding back
She said shut up and dance with me
This woman is my destiny
She said oh oh oh
Shut up and dance with me

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the phrase “shut up and dance with me” is not the number one pick for encouraging love and intimacy between a couple, but I disagree!

The boy is attracted to the girl but he is hesitant to get out onto the dance floor with her. Perhaps he can’t dance; he could be afraid of making a fool of himself or that someone else will cut in and dance with his girl.

He has a question – does she really want to be out there with me or is she reluctant?

So she looks him in the eye and says, “Shut up and dance with me!”

It’s not bad advice for when a relationship hits a bump or two, regardless of how long you have been together.

A lack of good inter-personal skills can be one of those bumps. Some people are extremely shy, so sharing deeply with another person can be awkward and embarrassing.

For others, it may be that past experiences with family members or friends have them left them emotionally damaged or wary of intimacy.

The good news is that there are a wealth of tools available today that enable people to develop healthy relational and communication skills – the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality website ( has a variety of resources to encourage deeper relationships among people.

Then there is the bump of fear that relationships often encounter. “What if this won’t last?” “What if the other person doesn’t really like me?” “Did I marry the wrong person?”

Unfounded fear severely hampers intimacy between two people and it will cripple a relationship.

If you are struggling with fear and it is holding you back from intimacy, then give voice to it. Speak with a counsellor or trusted friend about your fears and find healing in their objective advice.

Bring your fear into the light and see how quickly it begins to fade!

The bump of insecurity also damages a couple’s intimacy. We all have insecurities but some of us allow them to eat away at us, gnawing at our brains.

“Am I good enough for my husband/wife?”

“Does he/she really love me for who I am?”

“Will they leave me for someone else?”

I have found that the best way of dealing with some of these insecurities is to talk to your husband or wife about them. Make sure that you clearly explain to them that this is your problem, not theirs and then share openly the “what” and “why” of your insecurity.

And if you are the receiver in this conversation then listen with your ears and your heart, ready to speak the words of assurance and comfort that they need.

Every relationship will have its bumps and these need to be addressed, worked through – never ignore them.

But sometimes, as the song above suggests, we can allow the bumps to consume us and we look for reasons as to why this will fail.

Sometimes a husband or wife just needs to look their troubled lover in the eye, speak the words of love and reassurance they long for and simply say, “Shut up and dance with me!”

May you know the utter exhilaration of dancing forever with the one you love deeply!

Marriage is like dancing together


WATCHING PEOPLE DANCE can be a fascinating exercise at times.

Some are out on the dance floor, busting a move and they look great – but they dance alone.

Others dance with a partner, moving in beautiful symmetry together as they look into each other’s eyes.

Occasionally you see a couple where one partner is fully engaged while the other stares blankly over their shoulder, plainly bored and disinterested.

In case you haven’t noticed, marriage is a lot like dancing!

Great dancing requires great communication and understanding between the couple – and when they get it right, magic happens out there on the floor!

Likewise, a great marriage requires two people who are committed to each other and who are also prepared to grow and change in ways that produce a deeper understanding and care for each other.

When one, or both, partners are disengaged in the relationship, indifference sets in and the very real likelihood that you will end up dancing alone.

When it comes to dancing, I have two left feet while Karen is the dancer in my life. Through her loving encouragement, I have mustered up the courage to get out on the dance floor with her and not make a complete fool of myself!

Yet in the dance of our marriage, neither of us can claim any expertise.

Over the years, we have had to discover and apply many valuable principles that have enabled us to dance well together in our marriage.

One principle has been a commitment to be truly present with each other when we are talking.

It can be very easy to “zone out” or become distracted by something else when your partner is talking to you.

Our simple discipline to help us break that habit is that when are aware it is happening we admit it and apologise for doing so. It is humbling to confess that you were not paying attention, but it is also an effective circuit breaker that produces real change.

The principle of apologising when you are wrong in other areas has also enabled us to dance well together in our marriage.

We keep it pretty simple. We admit our mistake, apologise sincerely for it and ask for forgiveness – there is something humbling in that as well!

Most importantly, with the apology comes a genuine commitment to change our behaviour. People who only apologise but never change are extremely “unsafe” people.

Thinking of the marriage relationship as a dance also reminds me of the great dance of life that God invites us to be a part of.

One of the beautiful images that we have of God is that of the dance of relationship that exists between the Father, Son and the Spirit. They communicate, act and love in complete harmony – it is the great dance of God!

On the night He was to leave His disciples, Jesus prayed that they would all “be one”. His prayer was grounded in the unity that exists between Himself and His Father and Jesus’ desire was that His followers would experience that same unity and oneness; that they might dance in unity and love in their relationship with God and with each other.

Interestingly, the oneness Jesus prays would be between us and God the Father is also the same concept at the heart of oneness in marriage – unity, love and openness.

It was for this oneness – with God, others and our partners – that Jesus died and rose on that first Easter centuries ago.

He invites us all to the great dance of life with Him and each other, not indifferently but as fully engaged participants!?

Clarifying expectations is vital


I HAVE been reading and thinking about expectations in the context of marriage, and what interests me in the definition supplied by the Oxford Dictionary is the conviction that an expectation is something that is virtually certain, based on what someone believes.

ex¦pect|ation (noun) A strong belief that something will happen or be the case.

Every relationship is influenced by expectations – parents and children, husbands and wives, close friendships – and when expectations are not met tensions begin to surface.

“You didn’t call me on my birthday – don’t I matter to you?”

“Your school report tells me you are not trying – why can’t you apply yourself like Melinda?”

“We have missed the garbage pick up again – why can’t you remember to put the bins out?”

An author I read recently pointed out that “we expect other people to know what we want before we say it” and this is where expectations create problems in relationships.

Karen and I learnt early in our marriage the value of clearly communicating our expectations to each other in loving ways, even in the seemingly insignificant things.

I am a bit OCD when it comes to the way I like to have my shirts hung in the wardrobe – all in the same direction which makes it easier when you take them out – so imagine my surprise when I discovered that the girl I married hung them in there any old way!

I had a choice. I could simply “suck it up” and learn to adapt or I could have a potentially embarrassing conversation with my then young bride and explain to her my preference. (I say embarrassing because I genuinely feared that she would think I was some sort of pedantic, shirt hanging wardrobe loony!)

So I approached her sensitively, explained that it probably seemed silly to her, that I was not angry but would she mind if…? And her response? She had a quiet, understanding laugh about it (we both did), thanked me for telling her and said she didn’t mind hanging them my way at all.

The way we both approached that seemingly insignificant situation has become a foundation for our marriage that we have both endeavoured to build upon for over 34 years. That does not mean that we have always got it right but the commitment to be clear with each other in communicating our expectations in loving and humble ways is stronger than it has ever been.

How do we clarify expectations?

In her marriage enrichment program, The Third Option, Pat Ennis points out expectations in a relationship “are only valid when they have been mutually agreed upon” and to clarify expectations couples need to ask some important questions:
“Did either of us know that we had this expectation?”
“Is it reasonable?”
“Have we told each other about it or have we just assumed the other person should know?”

Such questions are important when considered in the light of the definition that I gave at the top of this page. If I have a “strong belief” that Karen should respond in a certain way and I think it “will happen”, what happens to me emotionally when she doesn’t do as I expected?

I might become angry, hurt, disappointed…or all of these! But if she is unaware of my expectation, if I have not clearly communicated it, then who is at fault? Instead of living in a fog of perpetual disappointment because I think she keeps on letting me down, I must take the time to lovingly and graciously communicate my expectations to her as well as asking myself if they are reasonable and something that we can both agree upon.

Unclear and unreasonable expectations can profoundly damage any relationship so taking the time as a couple to share and agree on each other’s expectations will not only enrich your marriage, it just makes good sense!

Best marriage gifts at Christmas


DESPITE our best attempts it is difficult not to think about gifts when Christmas comes around each year and this is especially true if you have young children! There are also many voices that compete for our attention at Christmas and among them is the one that cries, “Let’s remember the true meaning of Christmas!” I agree with that sentiment but I want to ask the question – how many of us take that seriously?

I think many of us agree with the suggestion but deep down we know that there are expectations from others that we will be giving out presents and we also have an expectation that we will receive gifts.

Perhaps what is needed is a shift in our thinking about what a gift really is as well as recognizing the many gifts that we already have, so as a couple this Christmas why not think in terms of one of those gifts that you have – the wonderful and enriching gift of intimacy?

Why should a couple think of intimacy as a gift?

Because it is the gift of companionship. As a couple you have both been blessed to not go through life alone. You have been gifted with a friend with whom you can do life with! Solomon described it well when he said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” Loneliness is the only companion many will know at Christmas so be thankful for the friend by your side with whom you not only share Christmas but life as well.

It is also the gift of presence. True intimacy is so much more than merely talking with someone at a deeper level. It is also about giving the other person the gift of yourself. It is so easy to give a person the impression that you are listening to them when in reality you are thinking about being somewhere else or about what you want to say next. But presence in intimacy involves empathy, interest and genuine concern for the other person.

And it is the gift of oneness. Intimacy between a couple brings a sense of completeness; that the one I am married to makes me a stronger person and the sense that together there is no challenge too great for us to face. True oneness provides support for each other in difficult times and the security of knowing that you are deeply loved by another.

And this wonderful gift is closely tied to the true meaning of Christmas! For Christmas is the time when we are reminded of the gift by God of His Son, Jesus, to the world. His Son who would grow to manhood, point people back to His Father and ultimately die for their sin that they – and we- might experience intimacy and relationship with God.

Through Jesus we experience companionship. He walked through the same, difficult world that we do – He is not a stranger to our pain. He experienced rejection, weakness and suffering but never stopped caring for, loving or healing hurting people.

He was present with us. More than that, He was God present with us and proved beyond doubt that God loves us and is concerned for us. How easily He could have remained aloof from our pain but instead, He walked among us and saw firsthand what sin, suffering and injustice had done to the world.

And He offers us oneness. Through His life and death the door is opened up for us to know God personally and deeply and a relationship that is defined by love not fear.

Yes, let us remember “the true meaning of Christmas” but in doing so let us also be prepared to change our focus by being thankful for its presence in our lives and for the gift of knowing God through His Son Jesus.

A choice between vulnerability and selfishness


M. SCOTT PECK, author of The Road Less Travelled, once stated that we are all born narcissists and that our goal as we journey through life is to grow out of that narcissism, out of loving and living for ourselves.

I agree with Peck! Each of us can choose to journey through life independently, focused only on ourselves or we can seek to reach out to people and enter into meaningful relationships with them.

However, if we choose the unselfish path, which requires intimacy, then we must recognize that there is a cost involved in pursuing it.

If you want to go deep in your relationship with your spouse then it is going to require that you be vulnerable. Most of us are good at conversations that revolve around simple pleasantries – “Hi, how are you? I’m fine thanks!” Some of us are quite adept at talking about other people! But when it comes to sharing things such as our ideas about a topic of how we feel about things we run a mile!


Because when we share our ideas or our feelings we know that risk is involved. There is the risk that the person we are talking to may scoff at our idea or worse, repudiate, laugh at or reject our feelings. For some people this is too great a risk to run and so they withdraw from relating to a person at an intimate level.

Some of us are just plainly not interested. The idea of sitting and listening to someone frightens us because we sense that something may be required of us – that there will be an expectation that we must also share about ourselves with the other person.

Rather than do that we simply stop interacting with people. A frustrated wife once asked her counselor if she had ever heard of “the great stone face”. “I believe I have” replied the counselor. “Well, I’m married to him” said the wife, “He doesn’t listen and he doesn’t talk!” I don’t know what was driving the husband to be like that but it was pretty clear that he was not interested in an intimate relationship with his wife.

Others are simply just too tired for relationship. They spend all day in a demanding job or they have been home all day catering to the incessant demands of young children and day’s end finds them with an emotional tank so low that they have nothing more to give to their spouse.

All of this brings me back to my original thought: we are all born narcissists. In other words, we are more inclined to look after our own needs than the needs of others. I would suggest that when we choose not to be vulnerable or we are not interested in others then we are being selfish.

If we really desire closeness in our marriages or with others then we are going to have to do some hard work.

We will choose to be vulnerable, to open ourselves up to others and to share ourselves with them.

Instead of a callous indifference toward people we will choose to listen and to show an active interest in them and their needs.

And sometimes it will require that at the end of a busy day, despite our own tiredness, we will choose to sit down with our spouse and ask them how they are feeling, what they are struggling with, what was the highlight of their day and give them the gift of both our time and presence.

Ebenezer Scrooge was described by Dickens as being “as solitary as an oyster” – what a desperately lonely character he was until he realized how miserable he had become by shutting people out of his life.

Intimacy is costly because it requires that we stop focusing on ourselves and start engaging with people in life-giving ways.

But then, who wants to live as an oyster?

Satisfying intimacy requires vulnerability and risk


A COMMON QUESTION that will be asked around thousands of meal tables tonight will be, “How was your day?” If I was a gambling man I can almost guarantee that the answer will be something like, “Fine, how was yours?”

In this age of instant global connection via social media it seems to me that we have never been more distant in our understanding of each other.

We regularly hear stories of people who have thousands of online ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ but in the deepest part of their soul they long for just one person with whom they can connect with at an emotional and personal level.

This hidden loneliness is often found in many marriages where the couple may have lived under the same roof for decades but have never made the soul connection that is so essential to healthy intimacy in marriage.

The intimacy I am referring to is not sexual or physical. I mean an intimacy that frees two people to be open and honest with each and which produces a deep level of trust that lasts for a lifetime.

It is generally held by the communication experts that there are five levels of communication that progressively build upon each other: it begins with cliché conversation and then moves on to reporting the facts about others. From that point you start to move into areas that require a greater level of disclosure about yourself. You begin to share your ideas, then your feelings (an extremely vulnerable place to be) until you arrive at what is described as peak communication – the place where you are totally open and honest with the other person.

I think many people want to be at that place with another person – peak communication – but they simply don’t know how to get there. This was highlighted for me in an article I read recently about a married couple who were struggling with this, and in telling their story shared how they learned to ask each other questions that required answers that went beyond the surface. In other words, they stopped asking each other “how was your day?”!

Kate McCombs blogs that there are six questions that couples can experiment with that can open up conversation between people and avoid the tired old “how was your day?” routine. She suggests the following:

”Did you have any victories that you want to share?”

“Were there any challenges that you want empathy about?”

”Were there any surprisingly fun moments in your day?”

”Did you have any nice connections with your colleagues?”

”What was frustrating about your day?”

”Now that you’re home, is there anything you’d love to brag about?” (Because we can’t always do this with colleagues but it is great when we can with partners.)

As you read this you may be thinking to yourself that the questions above seem a little forced. That’s okay – experiment with them and word them in a way that makes them feel more like you. But don’t dismiss them.

Questions like these show that a level of thought has gone into them and that you are genuinely interested in the other person.

They also require that the other person takes the time to think through their answer rather than slipping into the old cliché of “Everything is fine, how about you?”

Politeness is fine, but marriages need to be built on more than mere politeness in order for intimacy to flourish!

And intimacy requires cost. It will cost you to ask and answer questions like these because you are prepared to risk being vulnerable with another human being. But it is a risk worth taking!

You will always be a father and grandfather


“Gramps! Gramps! Can we do super hero and dragging please?” Over the past two months this has been a constant question that I have heard from the lips of my grandchildren during their stay with us.

What, exactly, is “super hero and dragging” I hear you ask? It involves me picking up each of my grandchildren (there are four in this particular family!), holding them in the plank position while I simulate flying them around the house Superman style on their way to bed. The dragging bit was where they held onto my ankles and I would drag them across our slippery wooden floors.

This has been my regular, night time routine for each one of them while their family has stayed with us as they prepare to move east for a few years.

Why am I telling you this?

Because while they have been living with us I have been reminded that you never stop being a father, never.

Having six extra people living in our house for two months, four of them under the age of seven, has been challenging but it has also been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in a long time.

It would have been tempting to have “checked out” when they all descended on my family back in early June and just wait out the next two months until they left for the East Coast. But I chose to engage with them and make this as enjoyable a time for all of us as possible.

And so I discovered many things.

I discovered that my one-year-old grandson has an adorable smile that lights up when you do one of those stupid things that grandfathers are renowned for.

I learned that my three-year-old grandson expresses his gratitude and love by throwing his arms around you and giving you a big hug.

I found out that my five-year-old granddaughter cannot stop giggling as you “super hero” her around the house.

And I also learned that my eldest granddaughter, though excited about moving to the other side of the country was also understandably sad to be leaving her extended family and friends behind.

I would have missed all this and more if I had simply chosen to withdraw into myself and ride things out until they left – I’m glad I chose to engage with them.

Let me speak to you as one Dad (and Grandfather) to another. I know that you are busy and that at the end of the day you need some space when you arrive home. Coming home to a house full of excited (sometimes whinging!) kids is no picnic. I have been in fairly demanding roles for most of my working life so I understand what this feels like.

But the reality is that we only have the briefest of moments with our children. It’s a cliché but it’s also true – they really do grow up quickly!

Don’t abdicate the role that you have as a Dad or a Grandfather to someone else. Only you can be that person in their lives. So get involved with your kids and resolve to do something stupid with them as well, like “super hero” them to bed!

Is it worth it? The sad look in my granddaughter’s eyes as she told me the day she left that “we couldn’t do the ‘super hero and dragging’ tonight” tells me it is.

You’re a Dad. You have been blessed with beautiful kids. Don’t waste a minute of it!