Take a Little Trip

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Photo by Deanna Ritchie

Many of my friends have shared stories of vacations they took with a grandchild, one-on-one excursions to destinations of shared interest. I’m looking forward to the time when my grandson and I can do that. I’m even starting to consider options; the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and London, England are some of my preferences.

Right now, his vacation dreams lean in the direction of adventure parks and fast action entertainment. Hopefully, his ideas and mine will fall more closely in line by the time we are ready to travel together.

Travels such as these allow sufficient time away from daily life to bond more deeply with a grandchild. There is something spiritual about stepping aside to engage with the heart of another person. Changing the scenery and schedule also affords a natural setting to share innermost ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

Of course, it may not be necessary to leave home at all. Grandparents who don’t live near their grandchildren are stepping out of the routine simply by welcoming them to come for a visit. I know a few grandmothers who periodically arrange visits with out-of-state grandchildren. Sometimes their visits are a springboard to travel with one grandchild at a time to places of shared interest.   

For me, the most important incentive for spending time alone with my grandson is to speak intentionally about my faith. If there is only one memory about me that he can carry throughout life, I hope it is that I was a devoted follower of Christ. If you knew your grandchild could only carry one memory of you through life, what would you want that memory to be? I encourage you to share that word with them.

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Hidden in Plain Sight

Butterfly GardenHow many butterflies can you find in this image? During a recent stroll through a flowery butterfly exhibit, I marveled at the chance to hang out with some of the most enchanting members of the insect realm, as well as fellow camera-clad humanoids. My goal was to capture as many of said winged creatures in one photo image as possible.

Attempting to count them in the photos proved to be a more imposing challenge. How could it be so difficult to find so many butterflies in a still shot when it was so easy to see them fluttering in plain sight?

Then I wondered, “Do I fail to notice obvious things about my grandson? When I look at his face, am I content to see his exterior features, or am I seeking to catch a view of his innermost self? When he speaks, do I hear his deepest dreams, hopes, and fears? These days, I am making a more concerted effort to observe things about him that are hidden in plain sight.

When you think of a grandchild, do your observations end on the surface, or do you delve into the soul of who they are? What a delightful challenge it is to connect with a grandchild at a deeper level.

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Marriage Prep

Preparing Children for MarriageWhen was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with your grandchild about marriage? Perhaps I should rephrase that to ask if you have ever talked with your grandchild about what it means to be married in the context of God’s plan? My grandson first brought up the topic when he was around the 4-year-old mark. That was my early warning to prepare for a lot of questions in the future.

These days, I’m gleaning significant insights from the book, Preparing Children for Marriage, by Josh Mulvihill. In his book, Mulvihill addresses marriage, sexual purity, and dating within the context of God’s perfect plan. I appreciate his no-nonsense approach and targeted references to Bible verses that support his points.

In today’s ‘anything goes’ culture our grandchildren need all the help we can give. Mulvihill encourages adults to speak boldly and honestly with their children and grandchildren about the real reason God created marriage. 

During a recent overnight visit, I tucked my now 7-year-old grandson in with a prayer for his future wife. It’s not too soon start, especially in light of his early warning. I am thankful for Mulvihill’s insights, and his encouragement to be intentional when talking with  grandchildren about such an important topic.

Send your thoughts about this important topic to: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

A Tale of Two Women

Spring FlowersTwo women linger over lunch by the window at a cafe. One is in her fifties. She wears a scarf around her head in the fashion common to one covering baldness that results from chemotherapy. The other is in her late twenties, midway through a pregnancy as evidenced by the swell along her midsection. They are having a leisurely mother-daughter lunch.

Leaning back into the chair and gesturing to make a point, the older woman carries on a dialogue while the younger woman rubs her belly and nods. Alternately, the younger woman talks while the older woman leans forward attentively. Their conversation is intentional.

Watching them causes me to consider the most important thing I want to share with people in my life, especially my grandson. I silently thank these two women for reminding me that whatever happens in this world is a temporary situation, but the course of our eternity is determined by the choice each of us makes to put our faith in Jesus Christ.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

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Connected Grandparents

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Courageous Grandparenting by Cavin Harper is the first book I read on the topic of Christian grandparenting. I picked it up at a conference held at my church a few years ago as a resource to help me navigate my complex new role. Back then, I had no idea there was a national network of Christian grandparents.

In addition to authoring books and establishing a communications network, Cavin writes weekly blogs and presents seminars on the topic. There is something comforting in knowing my challenges are common among grandparents, something even more comforting in knowing there are places to turn for answers that reflect biblical truths. Check out what Cavin has to say at: ChristianGrandparentingNetwork

During the past few years, I have discovered several others leading the charge into this growing life stage. It is a dynamic time in our culture when things we once held as true are being challenged at every level of thought. Cavin and others like him are pioneering the trail back to the Truth of God’s Word. Take heart. Connect with other grandparents who are putting on the full armor of God as in Ephesians 6:10-12.

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Let’s Get Real!

Heavenly LightDuring a women’s retreat where the life stages of attendees spanned early adult to grandmother of many, I was impressed by the transparency one 20-something woman demonstrated. She prayed for forgiveness of an addiction to pornography. Her revelation impressed me.

My first reaction was finding a face to put on a growing statistic among young Christian women. (If you don’t believe this, check out DirtyGirlsMinistries.com and CovenantEyes.com.) The casualties of sexual immorality suddenly became real and relevant in the tearful prayer of one of its victims. It pierced my heart to see her pain.

When I shared this experience with a friend, she reminded me that young adults want to engage in open, honest dialogue with people of their grandparents’ generation about tough topics like this. The thing is, meaningful communication can only happen when we grandparents are open and honest about our lives. It can be challenging. Our generation was taught not to “air your dirty laundry.” Maybe it’s time for a wardrobe update.

In Genesis, God created sexual intimacy to be a gift, not the plague many in younger generations are experiencing. You may know a young adult who is dying inside to talk about this or another personal challenge. I urge you to take off the cloak of pride and discuss tough topics openly and honestly with your children’s children. Getting real may be one of the most empowering gifts you can give.

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Calculations

Calculation

I’m one lucky woman who regularly spends time with my first grade grandson. That means learning first-hand what he is learning in school. These days, one of his favorite classes, aside from recess and lunch, is math. His enjoyment of math shows up in interesting ways.

One morning while we were mixing waffle batter, he threw out a math problem for me to solve: 100 x 100 x 1000 + 4 (divided by) 10. We worked on it together, first in our heads, second on paper, and third on a calculator. Then while I was pouring batter into the waffle iron, he rattled off another math challenge: 800 x 7000 + 4 (divided by) 10. (There must be something about all those zeroes that makes math more exciting.)

God has created each of us with unique gifts and talents. Part of our responsibility as grandparents is to help our grandchildren develop their talents and teach them the Word of God. After our math exercises and breakfast dishes were finished, I read a chapter to my grandson from his children’s Bible.

Have you calculated the importance of our role as grandparents? We are to teach our grandchild to know and love the Lord. I encourage you to take time to learn your grandchildren’s interests, and take advantage of opportunities to share your faith.

FYI, the answer to the first math problem is: 99,999,999. When you figure out the answer to the second math problem, post it to my website at: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

God’s Provision

Cardinal at Arb

The birds were munching on seeds at feeders in the Minnesota Arboretum, at least five different species: cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, sparrows, and cedar waxwings. A few squirrels and chipmunks got into the action as well. Their entertaining antics reminded me that, in His divine care, God does not overlook even the tiniest of creatures.

And yet, the animals at the feeder carried on in business-as-usual fashion. They acted as if they would somehow have an unending supply of seeds available for the taking. They live in the moment, trusting an unseen provider. Young children live this way as well, trusting that their every need will be met.

As a grandparent, I find it easier to recognize such childlike faith. It’s probably the outcome of decades of learning to trust God to cover all my needs. God has given grandparents the responsibility of sharing our faith with younger generations. Doing so can be as simple as sharing how God has guided us through ordinary days, or through the biggest challenges of our lives.

The key is to stay alert for opportunities. They can be as fleeting as a bird landing on a feeder to munch a few seeds. Relax, pray, and when the moment presents itself, speak boldly about your faith.

Sliding Into Second Childhood

Lake Ann Sledding

The whole thing started when my grandson wanted a play date with a boy in his class. His request snowballed into two boys, five girls, one mom, two grandmas, and a grandpa congregating at the unofficial sledding hill of a local park.

As soon as our sled and Sno-Tube were out, the boys skidded their way down the hill. They tried every conceivable position to increase their speed: standing, sitting, or flattening themselves out. Their ultimate objective appeared to be ramming into one another with enough force to knock themselves into the air.

The girls took a little bit longer to finesse their way down the slope. They tested a brightly colored stack of plastic sleds from the back of another SUV until each found her perfect fit. Before long, their attention turned to snowball fights, building snowmen, and making snow angels.

All four adults stood at the top of the hill observing the crisscross of trails carved into the snow. “Are you going to try it?” the other grandma asked as she looked my way. Too late! I was already on my way down the hill. Everyone got into the act, screeching and laughing all the way down. 

By the time our shared play date came to a close, the adults were planning our next outing. My childhood flashed before my eyes. I reminisced about the days when a dozen or more kids escaped outside to construct forts, lob snowballs, and race back indoors for hot chocolate and dry socks.

Snow is falling as I write this. I’m smiling. It won’t be long before I’m sliding into the childhood excitement of winter with my grandson once again.

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True Treasures

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Among my collection of old family photos is one taken about 80 years ago. I know this because I recognize a toddler in the photo who is now in her early eighties. The photo includes faces of many other people, mostly adults. It’s interesting because some of the faces fade into the background.

This photo serves as a visual reminder of my own temporary imprint on earth. In a few short years, my face and name will begin to fade into obscurity. And 80 years from now, someone might pull up a digital photo of me and wonder who I am.

Don Moen wrote and performed a song titled “When It’s All Been Said and Done”. It’s one of my perennial favorites, probably because it tells such a compelling story. His message speaks about our life on earth in relation to our eternal home. The lyrics challenge us to consider whether we are living for something that matters beyond ourselves, or something that brings us temporary pleasure. 

In Ecclesiastes 1:14, King Solomon advises his sons that pursuing wisdom, pleasure, or success for our own satisfaction is like chasing the wind. At the end of his life, he admits that all his earthly treasures have become meaningless. He concludes Ecclesiastes with an admonition to revere God and obey His commands. What a spiritual legacy!

Do you find yourself chasing the wind? Or have you embraced the words of Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”

At the end of life, we will all face the measure of how we choose to live today. Will your life count for meaningless treasures of earth, or eternal treasures in heaven? This will be the spiritual legacy you leave for generations to come.