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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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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Party Time

Three Generation FishermenQuestion: Why would any self-respecting, sensible, mature woman choose to go fishing with her family to celebrate her birthday instead of spending a day hanging out at a spa or tasting her way through multiple courses at a gourmet eatery? Here are five reasons.

Reason #1 – Because her family consists entirely of males, all of whom jump at the chance to fish – especially if it involves fishing off a pontoon on a beautiful day. Plus, they get really excited about your birthday when it involves something they really like to do.

Reason #2 – Because said males made the effort to pull together a gourmet picnic lunch to accompany said fishing trip and you didn’t have to lift a finger. You just have to sit and smile a lot.

Reason #3 – Because cruising around a lake on a pontoon for an entire afternoon on a beautiful day is something you enjoy, even if no fish make it onto the vessel.

Reason #4 – Because spending time with your family can be more fun than spending the day alone – even if it means no masseuse is involved. 

Reason #5 – Because, hey why not? Maybe, just maybe, said woman likes to occasionally dangle a little bit of fishing line in the water. 

The big lesson I learned about choosing how to celebrate special occasions is to tap into the things everyone in my family loves. It is a blessing to think this will undoubtedly become a fond memory for all of us, especially my grandson. One of the best moments was when my he said, “I want to do this for my birthday.” I could have guessed that one. 

Visit my website at: www.spirituallegacymemoir.com.

Expert Advice

At the Minnesota State Fair
At the Minnesota State Fair Dairy Barn

This summer my writing detoured in the direction of teen boys as my grandson grows ever nearer to the double-digits (age 10). The series of short stories I began in June seems to be blossoming into a novel about two teenage cousins. It’s been a fun journey so far with generally positive responses to initial readings.

One of my characters’ exploits involves calf roping on a dairy farm. All of my relevant past experiences were quickly tapped for this one before I launched into research. When my available resources were tapped, including conversations with my sister who once owned a non-dairy farm, I still had a few doubts about my story’s accuracy. I needed to know how the calf in my story would be likely to respond to the situation presented.

Question: where does a city girl find someone with expertise about Jersey calves?

Answer: the Minnesota State Fair Dairy Barn.

It didn’t take long to find a young lady who was managing her family’s livestock at the Fair. I introduced myself, explained what I was writing ,and asked if she would answer a few questions. My subject matter expert graciously confirmed all of my assumptions about the personality quirks of a Jersey calf, and she appeared to enjoy being consulted on the topic.

This encounter reinforced some valuable lessons for me and other grandparents:

  • We are never too old to learn something new.
  • Give credit to younger generations for the things they know.
  • A friendly inquiry is a handy tool for conducting essential research.

Many thanks to the young lady who shared her expertise about dairy farming, especially Jersey cow behavior.

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Dads Ahoy

boat marina
In Towne Marina, Lake Waconia, MN

If I ran a poll of all the single dads I know, none would be likely to say raising their kids alone was a preference. My observation is they made the best possible choice under difficult circumstances, if they even had a choice. Dads who take on the solo role of raising kids deal with the same issues that single moms do. All single parents travel a tough road, however, dads often get little recognition for their efforts.

It doesn’t seem to matter if the kids are toddlers or teenagers. Single dads juggle work schedules, school schedules, home maintenance, and all the other details of daily living – cell phones in hand and timetables down to a science. Their favorite pastime appears to be napping, if and when said opportunities present themselves.

As a grandparent, you might have a single dad in your circle of family and friends. Consider it a chance to connect with two generations at one time with something good for all parties involved. The dads get an extra hand, eyes, and ears to keep track of the kids, the kids get extra attention, and you get to see the world through fresh, young eyes.

A few days ago, my husband and I took a couple of single dads and their kids fishing on a rented pontoon. We brought snacks, tackle, and poles. While the kids fished and ate nonstop, the dads kicked back to relax. We drifted our way into an evening that nobody wanted to end. It inspired me to consider other things we might do together.

Share your ideas about time with single dads at: www.spirituallegacymemoir.com

Cars 3 Lessons for Grandparents

Cars 3 [1]
Image courtesy of Pixar Studios
This week, my husband and I took our grandson to see the new Cars 3 movie. It is a family friendly movie with a revved up story line. While it entertained our grandson, we caught the message that we are to share our wisdom with future generations.

In the movie, Lightning McQueen is an aging patriarch of auto racing who becomes a mentor to a talented but underappreciated young female race car named Cruz Ramirez. Their road is filled with potholes, but both rise to the challenges. He is forced to face the fact that an exciting chapter of his life can now only be seen in the rear view mirror. Under his guidance, Cruz gains confidence to pursue her dreams.

Through the process, Lightning has to dig deep into his past to unveil timeless lessons about work, ambition, and relationships. He hits overdrive, applying old-school techniques to Cruz’s high-tech training. The idea is clear that younger generations are eager to hear from their elders, willing to learn from them. In return, their enthusiasm gives a power boost for older models. It’s a win-win!

For me, the biggest message of Cars 3 is that God gives us no retirement plan. We might be slowing down, but as long as we have a few pistons firing, God wants us to continue sharing what we know about Him.

Resist the urge to put on the brakes. Take your grandkids to a movie – or to a ball game. Get to know their interests, hopes, and challenges. Tell them what you know about living a life of faith in God. Remember to tell me about your time together at: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

The Upside of Powering Down

breno-machado-17850We had a blockbuster of a summer storm earlier this week. That’s saying something, because in my lifetime I’ve been in close proximity to a couple of tornadoes that came and went without much interruption to my life. The drill goes something like this: head to a windowless,  interior room (preferably in a basement), wait for the wind to pass, come out of hiding, assess damages, and resume normal activities.

This week’s storm was memorable in a different way. It decided to take out the electrical power for a large swath of my neighborhood, thereby rendering itself quite a nuisance. Temporary loss of power isn’t uncommon in my area. But losing power for more than a few hours is noticeable. This one had us down for 21 hours. That was long enough to seriously consider how much we take the use of electricity for granted.

I was home with my grandson when the storm hit. We got to sit downstairs with a smart phone in case a “duck for your life” alert was issued. It didn’t happen. We did spend some time reviewing those weather safety rules the meteorologists are always announcing on TV. We performed this little exercise for memory. No power means no TV, no WiFi, no computer… no whatever it is that uses electricity.

Admittedly, there were a few “I’m scared” moments. But, the storm’s upside came as a forced shutdown of normal activities. As happy as I was to hear the power kick in the following morning at 5:17 a.m. (according to my bedside clock), I understand those powerless hours were a gift in several ways.

  • It became a running joke to watch one another flip on a light switch for no apparent reason. We gained a new level of respect for flashlights.
  • With the fridge off limits and stove out of commission, our preferred lunch option was a few blocks away at the burger restaurant where power was not interrupted (a definite upside). Ditto for the dinner hour.
  • Back at home we assembled a puzzle, we colored, we read books, and we made up stories. We spent more time than usual directly interacting with one another.

My grandson seemed to relished the adventure and the extra measure of attention he had in the absence of electronic devices. We might try this exercise another day, except we will keep the fridge, stove, and lights turned on. 

How did you spend your time the last time you had to power down? Let me know at: SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.

Blank Page

Placeholder ImageSo, I’m sitting here staring at a blank page. Sound familiar? Nothing is going to happen until I start hitting keys on the computer and stringing sentences together. That’s the reality of writing. It’s not as difficult as it might sound – really it isn’t. All it takes is a moment while my fingers are poised above the keys for thoughts to emerge. I just need to give those thoughts some direction.

Spiritual Legacy Memoir is about writing for children. In my case, that’s primarily for my grandson. He was with me in the morning before I started to write this, sharing time over breakfast before school. In the midst of downing a bowl of Captain Crunch, my grandson said, “I like this cereal better than the Cheerios his Dad has at home.” I considered the nuances of that statement.

For one, it means his Dad is providing his son with less sugar-laden cereal than I allowed. (Let it be noted here that I also give said child generous portions of broccoli and carrots.) It also means Dad and I have a common interest in the well-being of this child, beyond food and school.

What’s more important than filling my grandson’s belly with cereal is filling his heart with a love for the Lord. His Dad and I share this goal. You probably have similar shared goals with parents, adult children, or guardians of a certain child. What would you say to that child if you were staring at a blank page right now? Go ahead, write it down.

Don’t forget to share your ideas and experiences about writing for children at SpiritualLegacyMemoir.com.