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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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Grandma’s Wisdom

10 Oct

How many of these descriptions of grandmothers sound like YOUR grandma?

  • A grandmother is a lady who has no little children of her own. (LOL!) She likes other people’s.A Hug and Kiss for Grandma
  • A grandfather is a man grandmother.
  • Grandmothers don’t have to do anything except be there when we come to see them. They are so old they shouldn’t play hard or run. It is good if they drive us to the store and have lots of quarters for us.
  • When they take us for walks, they slow down past things like pretty leaves and caterpillars.
  • They show us and talk to us about the color of the flowers and also why we shouldn’t step on “cracks.”
  • They don’t say, “Hurry up.”
  • Usually grandmothers are fat, but not too fat to tie your shoes.
  • They wear glasses and funny underwear.
  • They can take their teeth and gums out.
  • Grandmothers don’t have to be smart.
  • They have to answer questions like, “Why isn’t God married?” and “How come dogs chase cats?”
  • When they read to us, they don’t skip. They don’t mind if we ask for the same story over again.
  • Everybody should try to have a grandmother, especially if you don’t have television, because they are the only grown ups who like to spend time with us.
  • They know we should have snack-time before bedtime, and they say prayers with us every time, and kiss us even when we’ve acted bad. (1)

A few weeks ago, while I (Dawn) visited my dear aunt Julia in Kokomo, Indiana, I had the wonderful blessing to return to the town where my Grandparents lived while I was a little girl. I visited a park where I caught crawdads under a famous old red covered bridge.

 Grandparents' graveI visited my grandparents’ homes ~ very old and broken down now ~ and then the cemetery where they were buried. There was just something about seeing their tombstones that brought me up short, and made me realize, once again, that someday my name will be carved on a tombstone. As my husband snapped a photo, I thought about my grandparents, and especially my Grandma Lillian Webb, nicknamed “Bill,” for some reason.

I often talk about my mom’s mom, Grandma Parks, because she was the last of the four grandparents to pass on, and she was a woman that I loved dearly. My sister Pam had the privilege of caring for her until she died.

But my Grandma Webb is etched into my memory because of the things she said. Perhaps you had a grandma like her.

I am so grateful for her influence in my life. Some things she said were the typical things that all grandmas say ~ like “Pretty is as pretty does.” But the times I remember most were the special moments when she encouraged me to live for God. I remember praying at her knee in her living room as she taught me to simply have a conversation with God like I’d have with a good, loving friend.

Grandma told me repeatedly that she was praying for me and praying for my husband who was “growing up somewhere in the world. (That is something this Grammy now does for her own grandchildren!) Grandma told me to be careful about the choices I made in life, because many of them would be hard to change, if I got them wrong. She encouraged purity and integrity, and Grandma reminded me that success comes from “acknowledging God” and obeying Him ~ not depending on my own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6). And it was my Grandma Webb who wisely sent me the information about a Bible college in Pennsylvania when I was considering some secular ones nearer my home. It changed the direction of my life.

Grandma could be stubborn, but it was stubbornness for good. She knew God and wanted all of her family to know Him, too. She fulfilled Psalm 145:4 ~ “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” She left my sister and I a rich legacy of God-centered thinking that helped to shape our lives.  I know that I was spurred on to seek wisdom because of the wisdom I saw in my Grandma and her Bible-based perspective on life. Because of my Grandma ~ in fact, because of all my grandparents ~ I understood the steadfast love of the Lord (Psalm 103:17).

Grandma and son

Grandma and my dad

Now a Grandma myself, I’ve realized that grandmas have the potential to shape the future as they share truth with not only their children, but their precious grandchildren. They can encourage their their dreams, and point them toward the only things that matter in this life:  love of God and His Word; and love for people that causes us to reach out to serve, teach, and share the Gospel. In this way, grandmothers (and grandfathers) “bear fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:14-15).

Do you have good memories of your Grandma? If not, was or is there a wise “Grandma” figure in your family or church who has helped to shape your life and walk with God?

Take time to thank the Lord for this precious woman ~ and if she is still alive, drop her a note to express your love and gratitude.

(1) “Grandmothers,” Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3676, http://www.cybersalt.org

In Praise of Godly Grandmas

23 Jun

Note: This post is just for Grandmas, but  others may enjoy it, too.

Grandkids Kissing GrandmaSpeaker and writer Vonda Skelton wrote about one of her grandmothering experiences:

A few years ago, my granddaughter Ellie and I were passing the time on a family trip by playing one of our favorite road games, “I Spy.” It was Ellie’s turn, and she had me searching high and low for something purple, our favorite color.

It wasn’t on the beach towel, the flower on her shirt, or her purple nail polish. I had a good view of the entire van from my back seat location, but it wasn’t helping. What else could it possibly be?

“You’ll never guess this one,” the seven-year-old announced. That was all I needed to hear. Zooming down the highway at 70 miles per hour, my competitive streak went into overdrive. But there was nothing purple left in the car.

Hispanic Grandma“Are you sure you mean purple?” I asked, eying her sister Christiana and the sweater she wore ~ “Could it be pink?”

“No, Nana, it’s purple. I promise.” She crossed her arms. You might as well give up. You’ll never guess.”

Five minutes later, I gave up. “OK, what is it?” She pointed. I leaned over and scanned the floorboard. “There’s nothing purple down there.”

“Not there. There,” she said, pointing again. I followed her pointing … My spider-veined leg.

Purple is no longer my favorite color. *

This story is from a book by Sharon Hoffman called A Car Seat in My Asian Grandma & GranddaughterConvertible? *, an insightful book for any grandmother (Nana, Grammy, Me-Maw or whatever she’s called) who wants to be a godly influence in her grandchildren’s lives.

Can you sing the praises of a godly grandmother, or a grandma who loved you unconditionally? I (Dawn) know that some cannot, and that is a true shame ~ representing hurts and lost opportunities. (But I know of many who have “recovered” from insensitive or selfish grandparents, and learned how to properly love their own grandchildren.)

I have nothing but praise for my two godly, loving grandmothers. I know beyond any doubt that they both prayed for me, and they also passed along an authentic spiritual heritage.

Reading Hoffman’s book encouraged and inspired me.  She suggested so many fun ways to be involved. But fun times aren’t the only way to connect with grandchildren. (Pam endorsed the book, saying, “My sippicup is overflowing from all the wisdom, practical ideas, real-life stories, and illustrations!”)

One of my favorite parts of the book Continue reading

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