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Grandma’s Porch Lessons

7 Jun

Little Billy wanted to surprise his grandma with a cup of coffee. So, while Grandma sat out front, swinging on the porch, Billy asked his grandpa to help him make the coffee. Then he put the coffee in a mug, added a couple of cookies to a tray, and took them out to his grandma.

“Grammy,” Billy said. “Look what  brought you!” The grandma smiled as Billy served her and then settled next to her on the swing.

After a few sips, she noticed something odd.

“Billy,” she said. “Why are there three little green army guys in my coffee?”

“Oh Grammy,” he said. “Don’t you know? It’s like on that TV commercial:  ‘The best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.'” LOL!

PorchSwing_Overstock_reversedMy Grandma Dorothy – on my mom’s side of the family – was a swinger. The good kind. Her old porch swing on Apperson Way in Kokomo, Indiana, was one of my favorite places on earth as a young girl. I remember sitting there and swinging with Grandma many times.

Together, we watched the world go by. Sometimes big trucks went down Apperson Way – a main thoroughfare in the town. We’d daydream about where those trucks were headed. But other times, we’d just watch people walk by. Or we’d watch neighbors, observing them at work and play. I learned some positive and negative lessons, just swinging and watching.

One day I watched a young mom, screaming at her son until he cried. I thought about parenting, and how I wanted to treat my own children someday.

Another time, Grandma pointed out a man who stopped watering his lawn to help a woman who had dropped a basket of laundry. Grandma taught me the value of kindness.

“You don’t have to make wrong choices,” she’d say.

These were lessons that stuck with me. Choices became a part of my daily mindset. Eventually, I started a ministry to help women make wise, biblical choices. A few years ago, not long before Grandma Dorothy died, I thanked her for pouring so much wisdom into my life.

My Grandpa Harry, my dad’s dad, also taught me to observe people. He loved to watch people shopping at the mall. “You can learn a lot about folks this way,” he’d say.

Galatians 6:7-8 says, “whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” We can easily learn “sowing and reaping lessons” by watching the choices people make – and taking note of the consequences of those choices. Whether it’s watching celebrities or our next-door neighbor or even a family member, the opportunities to learn from the successes and failings of others are endless.

My mom encouraged me to make wise choices too.

“You won’t make as many mistakes,” Mom said, “if you can learn from the mistakes of others.”

It’s a biblical concept.

1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us biblical characters’ stories are given to us “as an example.” They were “written down for our instruction.” We can learn how to act and respond to life’s circumstances by paying attention to their stories.

The entire book of Proverbs was written to help us learn wisdom, prudence and discretion (Proverbs 1:1-33), and the author, Solomon, king of Israel, wrote, “the one who understands obtains guidance.” We know Solomon asked God for wisdom (1 Kings 3:1-15), and so can we (James 1:5). But I imagine that Solomon, like my grandparents, was also a great observer of human nature.

I wonder if King Solomon had a porch swing.

Where is your source of wisdom? Do you have a wisdom mentor? If you do, take time today to express your gratitude, while you still can.

– Dawn

Porch swing:  http://www.overstock.com/guides/how-to-install-a-porch-swing

A Grandparent’s Joys

27 Mar

One of my favorite quotes about grandmothers is this: “Grandmas are moms with lost of frosting.”

Comedian Bill Cosby had a way of making grandparent relationships come alive. I’ve always loved this story he told about his children’s grandmother (see photo).

BillCosbyOnGrandmothers

I was blessed to have two wonderful grandmas … not at all alike, and each providing me with sweet memories and a storehouse of wisdom. But that doesn’t mean I know everything about being a grammy.

I have two “grandmother” gift books I like to read occasionally, just to keep realistic expectations and to remind myself what a “good grandmother” looks like.

Some of the gems I read in The Joy of Grandparenting include:

  • The good news is that grandchildren keep you young. The bad news is that afterwards you “feel your age.” Grandchildren help keep you flexible – in more ways than one!
  • Childhood memories of how Grandma’s house smelled and looked never leave you.KissingGrandma
  • All grandparents have a license to be silly. Grandchildren are your passport to a world of fun and adventure.
  • Show your grandchildren that you can grow older without acting “old” – age gracefully.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your affection for each other when your grandchildren are around.
  • Share the joy of reading with your grandchildren – as often as possible. Introduce your grandchild to the books you treasured as a child.
  • Grandchildren love hearing your “When I was your age” stories – the first time.

In Grandmothers Are Special, I smile when I read about others’ thoughts and opinions on grandparenting:

  • Louisa May Alcott: “A house needs a grandma in it.”
  • Clara Ortega: “Grandmas mustn’t take sides – but there’s nothing to stop them winking!”
  • A grandmother named Pat: “You know, I think I really was meant to be a grandmother. It was mothering that confused me for all those years.”
  • Jewish proverb: “One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.”
  • Joan McIntosh: “They say genes skip generations. Maybe that’s why grandparents find their grandchildren so likeable!”
  • Susan Strasberg: “I loved [my grandparents’] home. Everything smelled older, worn but safe; the food aroma had baked itself into the furniture.

My favorite is by humorist Erma Bombeck: “Grandmothers have three major objectives: keep billfold pictures current, buy whatever their grandchildren are selling,  and give impractical gifts that parents have forbidden them to have.”

Yes, these are fun and inspiring comments, but then I turn to the Book of all Books, the Bible, and soak in God’s rich wisdom.

Psalm 128:6a  says, “May you live to see your children’s children….” There was a time I just wanted to live long enough to see my grandchildren; but the older I get, the more I want to stay strong so I can “yield fruit” in my old age (Psalm 92:14). I want to see those HugForGrandmagrandchildren grow up, get launched from their parents, and start homes of their own.

I want to see great-grandchildren!

Because I love my grandchildren, I love to give them gifts (and Proverbs 13:22 suggests that a wise  grandparent “leaves an inheritance” to grandchildren); but the greatest gift we can leave them is to pass on a godly heritage (Deuteronomy 4:9; 2 Timothy 1:5).

Psalm 145:4 explains the responsibility of one generation teaching another about God. We certainly can live out authentic faith in front of our grandchildren, but we also need to be intentional in speaking up and pointing our grandchildren to the Creator who sent Jesus to redeem them and give them eternal life.

Sharon Hoffman encouraged me in grandparenting when she wrote,* “You are a valuable representative of the God who created you. Being a grandmom is a crucial role in His kingdom. You are a child of the most High God. When God created you, He also designed a specific purpose for you alone to accomplish at this particular place and time in history. Even if your grandchildren have two or more grandmothers in addition to you, God longs for you to be a representative of His love to the children that He has place in your life.”

Proverbs 17:6a says, “Children’s children are a crown to the aged….” Yes, grandchildren distinguish us. They are our crowning glory, our pride and joy. I love my “Grammy crown.”

* Sharon Hoffman, A Car Seat in My Convertible? Giving Your Grandkids the Spiritual Ride of Their Lives, New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, AL, 1008), p. 26

– Dawn

Legacy Takes More than a Light Switch Plate

6 May

In 1939 and again in 1964, Westinghouse buried some time capsules with some common and some rather odd contents:   a deck of cards, a bikini, a Polaroid camera, a Bible,  a Beatles record, a child’s Mickey Mouse cup, credit cards, a copy of the sci-fi magazine “Amazing Stories” in microfilm form, etc.

You can probably guess which items belonged in each capsule ~ but you’d be wrong if you put “Bible” in the 1939 capsule.

Would you have added these things in time capsules?

Time capsules are all about passing on information about today to someone in the future.

I recently saw a “Light Switch Time Capsule that got me thinking. The author of the post, Sean Michael Ragan, said, “I get nostalgic when I move out of a home, especially if it’s one I’ve lived in awhile. Leaving a secret treasure or two stashed here and there, seemed to help me get closure.” Instead of dropping a note in the wall (as some have done), Sean wrote a message on the back of a standard light switch plate.

The switch plate had a note on the back to tell all future home owners a little about the previous home owner’s history in the home. This particular person’s story was a little depressing, actually, as he described some of his personal choices. But there is something in each of our hearts that wants to pass on information to others about what we think is important, or information about how to deal with things in the future.

As a Christian woman, I want to leave a legacy; I want to be sure my family knows what I think is important (God, His Word, and serving the Lord) ~ but it will take a lot more than a simple light switch time capsule to pass on that information.

So where can I “leave” my legacy information (my time capsules*) to make a real difference?

First, I can leave a legacy in my history  (or heritage). I can leave my children and grandchildren photos and family tree information, special recipes and keepsakes ~ sharing cultural traditions and some of the family history that made me the person I am, including my Christian heritage.

The Israelites left memorial stone altars for future generations. For example, they made a mound of stones after crossing the Jordan River on dry ground (Joshua 4:1-8), and later, when people asked the meaning of the stones, they talked about the faithfulness of God in caring for His people.

I’ve told my children about Christians in their background who ministered as preachers and missionaries and faithful servants of God in their churches. They need to know they have a godly heritage, and that they can trust in the Lord for their future (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Second, I can leave a legacy in the hearts of each of my children and grandchildren. I can write truth on their hearts. I can spend time getting to know the unique personalities and needs of each one, and perhaps tailoring some biblical information (or counsel, when asked) to help them deal with things in their lives or the future.

Proverbs 1:8 says, “Listen my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” This assumes that we are instructing and teaching.” We are to faithfully teach our children and grandchildren about the love and righteousness of God (Psalm 103:17-18).

Third, I can leave a legacy in my “handbook,” my copy of the Word of God. I want to leave them notes in my personal Bibles that they can read in the years to come, if they so choose.

Everything else ~ all material goods ~ will fall apart or whither away, but the Word of God will endure forever (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35), and it is timeless and relevant for my family’s future needs and direction. I want them to understand that the scriptures “worked” for me. They comforted and counseled me in times of need, and they were a steady resource. The Word is alive and powerful! (Hebrews 4:12)

Fourth, I can leave a legacy in my home. I might write words of wisdom on items in my home, that they will read (and perhaps want) after I am gone. I think of the Israelites’ mezuzahs by their doorposts ~ small parchments inscribed with a short version of their Torah. It’s original purpose was to help the Jews remember the presence and commands of God (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9).

While I think it’s more important that God’s Word is inscribed on our hearts, it certainly can’t hurt to have home decorations that remind us of who God is and what He is doing in our lives. And these works of art ~ plaques, paintings, sculptures, etc. ~ can be passed down to our family members.

I will need to be proactive and intentional about all of this “leaving,” of course. In the busyness of life, I must make time to remember legacy or it won’t magically happen.

What do you do to pass on family traditions and the truth of the Word of God? Where else might I leave some legacy information?

* Just for fun:

At your next family reunion, create a time capsule of family memories. Ask each guest at the reunion to bring an object they feel represents their current interests or something about the culture at that time. Seal and wrap the time capsule, and save it for the next reunion!

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