From time to time, we all need to get a fresh perspective on familiar old faces.
Everyone needs a break. Children get summer breaks from the rigors of school, which might be one of the reasons parents need an occasional break from the kids. A day or two might be enough to clear the mind and nourish the soul. It’s part of the “take care of yourself” advice many family experts advocate.
This same advice applies to grandparents who are actively engaged in caring for grandchildren. My husband and I recently took a road trip – just the two of us. It gave us time to talk about ideas that were getting pushed to the background of life. It gave us a chance to refocus our goals, see our lives with a new perspective. We had those “what if…” and “would you ever…” conversations in the uninterrupted quiet of our vehicle.
During our travels, I saw endless varieties of cars towing pop-up campers, trucks hauling fifth wheel campers, and self-contained Class A RVs. I have friends who look forward to traveling around and parking theirs in campgrounds throughout the country. My husband and I carried on animated discussions about what it would be like to take road trips in them. It’s good to know your preferences, but fun to consider other options.
Along the way, I reminded myself that some retreats happen right at home. Staying put eliminates the stresses of planning, preparing, and packing. It just takes some undisturbed time to engage in a favorite hobby, start or finish a project, or take a nap.
However you do it, spend some time apart from the grandkids. You’ll gain a fresh perspective on the priorities in your life. You might find yourself anxious to give big hugs to the most wonderful grandchildren on earth: yours, of course.
Share what you do to gain a fresh perspective by leaving a message at barbhowe.org.
If Satan wants anything, he wants to prevent the spread of Christ’s message for salvation. When a grandparent decides to share their faith with a grandchild, it’s a sure bet the enemy will send some flaming arrows to block the communication. This is often referred to as spiritual warfare.
The weapons Satan launches might be directed against you and your family members, or they might show up as unexpected distractions. Just know the more fervently you work to honor God with your legacy, the more resistance you will face. Don’t give in. Let God take care of the details. If you’ve studied the Bible, you already know the victory belongs to Him.
You also know the opposition can get fierce. Let’s face it, if your testimony of faith were not powerful, Satan would not have any interest in trying to stop it’s spread. For this reason, consider the fact that you are facing opposition to be a testament to the glory of God. Get your battle plan in order.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God,
so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the authorities,
against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore put on the full armor of God,
so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6: 10-17 NIV).
I sometimes find songs are helpful to keep my mind cleared from spiritual distractions. The Battle Belongs to the Lord, by Petra is one such song. Give it a listen.
Step-grandparents are the real deal. That day when I became one years ago is clearly etched in my memory. My husband and I were returning home from an out-of-town event when my phone buzzed to life with the eagerly anticipated news: our grandson had arrived. It was a highly emotional moment.
Getting to know a child from birth is an entirely different experience than marrying a single father who already has a son. Painful losses happen in kids’ lives when their families split. Without question, stepparents play a pivotal role in family dynamics. It takes time and patience to build a relationship, and that includes relationships we have with children. I would probably be a better step-mom if a “do over” were possible. But now, I focus on doing my best as the parent of an adult.
That said, being a grandparent is one of many blessings that resulted from sticking with it through thick and thin. My grandson doesn’t care that we’re not genetically linked. He only cares that I am a safe, loving grandmother. That probably explains why our guest bedroom has morphed into his second bedroom. It’s all part of staying in step.
When was the last time you prayed a blessing over your grandchildren? I’m talking about an intergenerational blessing like Jacob prayed over the sons of Joseph. The kind that a grandparent prays over each grandchild to guide them in the future.
I always wondered how people in ancient days knew when it was time to pass along their faith legacies. How did they know what to pray? Is there a way to carry on this tradition today in a way that suits contemporary life but still suits our desire to pray for their salvation? Here are my thoughts.
First, take some time to think about your grandchildren as individuals. Allow yourself to get a clear image of one child in your mind’s eye. Pull out some photos if that helps. Consider all that you know about this child’s personality, interests, and hopes. Give yourself as much time as you need to fully explore who this child is.
Second, think of a specific time or event in your grandchild’s life that prompts a memory. It could be a happy or a sad memory, because in life we experience both. The key is to find a memory that prompts a strong emotional response in your heart. Jot down some notes about it. When did it occur? Where? What happened? How did it end?
Third, pray for God’s guidance while you look for a Bible verse befitting your grandchild, one that you want them to embrace. I look for uplifting messages. For example, your grandchild might have faced an important decision. Proverbs 3:56 says: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Finally, write a note or short letter to your grandchild about the memory. Include the Bible verse and your prayer for them relevant to the experience. Write it as something they can read now and when they are grown as a reminder of your relationship with them. In this way, you give them a double blessing.
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.
When 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.
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.
During 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.