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.

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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.

Urgent

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image courtesy of NASA

Time is running out… The American family is in crisis… These are messages I’ve heard repeatedly during the past few days, warnings that few would dispute.

A pastor wisely shared a quote: “Crisis is a good editor.” It referenced a commentary he read about the 9/11 tragedy, when the basics of life were broken down to the few that really mattered. For the briefest of moments, nobody cared how their portfolio stacked up, what kind of car they drove, or whether their fashions were trendy. At that moment, we contemplated our own eternities.

Sometimes crises cause us to see the urgency that exists in everyone’s life. If you would, take a few moments to watch the video In My Seat – A Pilot’s Story from Sept 10th – 11th

After you watch the video, please share your thoughts with me at: www.spirituallegacymemoir.com.

Grandchildren Not Required

contemplationA longtime friend visited us recently.  She has never been married and never had children. She did, however, keep herself actively involved in the lives of children. Now as a grandmotherly figure, she talks candidly about her childhood goals and dreams, and how God graciously allowed her to realize them.

While visiting, she expressed an interest in writing about her journey from child to adult. This lady has a story worth hearing. Truthfully, we all do. Everyone gets hit with situations that challenge the foundations of our faith. And it sometimes takes years to overcome unwarranted guilt or shame.

That’s what makes the life messages we share with children so valuable for them. Our stories give us the power to help children face personal problems, such as self-image and self-esteem, before they grow into full-blown crises. The more transparent we allow ourselves to become about our own childhood experiences, the better we create opportunities to speak wisdom into the lives of children and to impact their futures in positive ways.

The beautiful thing is that it works with other people’s grandchildren as well as your own. You never know when they might need to hear your story. Be generous with your stories and the wisdom you have gained from living through difficulties. The best part is that you don’t even need to have grandchildren to do it.

You probably know plenty of children who could benefit from the positive Christian message of an adult who has been where they are now and allowed God to carry them through. They do not need to be your grandchildren.

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