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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

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Serving in the Seasons of Life

26 Sep

There’s nothing like an obedient child who has a sweet, innocent heart ~ like little Johnny:

Mother instructed Johnny, as they waited for the bus, to tell the driver, “I am four years old,” when Bus Driverasked,  because then he would ride for free.

Sure enough, as they got into the bus, the driver asked Johnny, “How old are you?”

Johnny looked up at his mom and then at the driver. “I am four years old,” he said.

“Oh… and when will you be six years old, young man?” the driver asked.

Johnny smiled and replied: “When I get off the bus.” (1)

That mom didn’t teach her son integrity-in-the-moment, did she? One of the most powerful responsibilities of young moms is to teach their children godly character. A mom is her child’s teacher and coach, from the earliest years; and it’s a powerful way to serve God, too.

How have you served the Lord, so far?

It’s almost my birthday, and I (Dawn) was thinking the other day about how the Lord has allowed me to serve Him in all my seasons of life. As a young single, I served Him on a revival team, singing and counseling in churches across America. As a young wife, I encouraged my husband in his preaching and mission-based ministries ~ a job that has continued for our entire 37 years of marriage.

Generations

Seasons of Life

As a mother, God directed me to home school my children, and I served Him by being faithful in teaching them for many years. Feminists were loud and demanding in those days, telling women that motherhood was a “lesser” calling; but I was glad God showed me (years before I became a mom) that caring for my children would be a significant, fulfilling role, and a wonderful way to serve God!

We only have little ones for a short season, but we have the power to impact their lives for eternity! Some women cannot stay home ~ they must work to help the family survive ~ but every woman needs to make her “service” and “ministry” a matter of prayer during those crucial years.

As my sons graduated and married and I entered mid-life, I moved forward to accomplish some personal goals, but I still prayed for my boys. And now as a Grandma, I want to influence my grandchildren for the Lord. It’s not just an expression of love, it’s another way to serve God.

With every passing birthday, I’m more convinced that growing older isn’t for wimps. I’ll save you the litany of pains and aches, old bones and weary brain cells. With aging, there is a sense of futility that many feel as they see life racing by, and the sudden realization that there are fewer years ahead than behind us.

But Daughters of the King have a different perspective. We don’t retire from Kingdom life until God calls us home. We walk the path of adventure with Jesus, never knowing what might be ahead, yet savoring each fresh opportunity to seek Him, speak up for Him, and in some way, serve Him. We reach out as Titus 2:4-5 women, passing on our faith and wisdom to the younger generation.

With GrandmaMy grandma once told me that she would serve Jesus until she died, even if that “serving” was simply whispered prayers for her children and grandchildren in her final days. I know that it was Grandma’s prayers ~ actually, both of my grandmothers’ prayers ~ that kept me on the path of righteousness in my teenage years.

Our serving isn’t about prominence (Luke 22:24-28), but about obedience to the callings of God and the priorities He has for us in each season.

Remember: every season is beautiful in its time.

I recently re-read the familiar passage about the Proverbs 31 woman. She was a woman who was capable and skilled, and she ministered to her family in many loving ways. But what struck me was the foundational truth in verse 30: “a woman who reverently and worshipfully fears the LORD, she shall be praised!” That is the one thread, the continuity, that weaves together the activities of the woman of God through ALL the seasons of her life. No matter where she finds herself ~ single, married, parenting, in mid-life, as a grandparent, or widowed ~ she honors and serves the Lord.

How are you serving the Lord, Friend? Does your service fit the biblical priorities of your life and your role as a woman in this special season?

If it does, smile. It’s a BEAUTIFUL thing.

(1) Adapted from “Four-Year-Old Rider,” Cybersalt Digest, Issue #3666, 6-14-11, http://www.cybersalt.org

Be Patient with the ‘Old Folks’

12 Sep

I read, the other day, “You know you’re getting older when all the names in your Little Black Book end with MD.”

This post is for our older readers … or younger readers who have older friends and family. (There now, that should cover all of us!)

A little old lady seated herself right behind the bus driver. Every ten minutes or so she’d pipe up, “Have we Signs to Senior Centerreached Oriskany Falls yet, Sonny?”

“No, lady, not yet. I’ll let you know,” he replied, time after time. The hours passed, and the old woman kept asking for Oriskany Falls. Finally the little town came into view. Sighing with relief, the driver slammed on the brakes, pulled over, and called out, “This is where you get out, lady.”

“Is this Oriskany Falls?”

“YES!” he bellowed. “Get out!”

“Oh, I’m going all the way to Albany, Sonny,” she explained sweetly. “It’s just that my daughter told me that when we got this far, I should take my blood pressure pill.” (1)

That bus driver probably needed to take one, too!

Now that I am past 50 (and I won’t tell you how far), I’m beginning to realize that there are times my responses wear a little thin with the younger generation. I’ve often thought, “Hey … have a little patience!”

But then I remember that there were times as a youngster that I wasn’t all that patient with my elders.

Patience is a virtue, and it’s also valuable if we’re going to keep up effective communication with the older generation. In our culture, which is basically selfish and focuses on instant gratification, we have forgotten how to wait for precious things. This is especially true in our responses toward the elderly.

We need to keep these thoughts in mind:

  1. Age and illness brings decline in physical abilities, and this can affect a person’s hearing. The hearing in my left ear is already affected. I keep asking my husband, “What did you say?” I have to turn the television up or it sounds muffled. So when you’re talking to an older person, speak clearly and perhaps just a tad slower. It helps to face the person, too, so they see your lips moving.
  2. Be patient if a person doesn’t recognize you right away. Vision distortion or loss may frustrate an elderly person, and there’s no need to make the person feel worse.
  3. It’s not just the eyes and ears; sometimes an older person’s voice gets weaker. If they never enunciated well in the first place, now their voice may be even harder to understand.
  4. Memory loss ~ especially short-term memory loss ~ is to be expected to some degree as our friends and family grow older. Again, be patient.
  5. Don’t expect an older person to have your energy level. The Psalmist acknowledged that strength would wane (Psalm 71:9) Not every older person is weak. Some people have stronger stamina (I’m thinking that my friend Pam Farrel will probably be vigorous until she’s 100!) But be patient when a person gets tired. Keep visits short, unless the person sincerely encourages you to stay longer.

Beyond these areas for patience, think of ways to be kind to the elderly. For example:

Think of practical ways to share “things” with them that they need (especially widows, James 1:27), taking care not to offend their need for as much independence as possible. (For a note of discernment: 1 Timothy 5:3-4; 5:16)

Include them in some of your events, even if you have to adjust activities a bit to help them participate.

Older Woman_smilingHonor them ~ especially your “father and mother,” as the Bible says (Ephesians 6:2). Respect for elders pleases the Lord (Leviticus 19:32). Respect their values, even if you don’t agree with them. (see 1 Timothy 5:1a)

Allow them to share their thoughts and feelings, and the experiences of their lives. (This does not mean that Wise old black manyou need to encourage any attitudes of bitterness, anger, etc. Help them see a biblical perspective, if possible.) Allow them to reminisce, and affirm their value as a person.

Learn from their wisdom and knowledge.  There are rich rewards for those who wait patiently for older people to share what they have learned (Job 12:12). Ladies, older women can mentor you (Titus 2:3-5)  in ways you might not imagine.

Give them freedom to grieve over losses ~ deaths of loved ones and friends, loss of independence, losses in health and financial status, etc. At the same time, encourage them with the truth of scripture. (Note: if the grieving turns to social withdrawal, deep depression, or other harmful emotions, help the older person seek counseling or medical advice, if it is Grandma writingappropriate for you to do so.)

Help them see how they can declare God’s power to “the next generation” (Psalm 71:18). Suggest ways they can still be involved in Kingdom work.

Can you think of other ways to show kindness and patience toward those who are older than you? Do all you can to keep these relationships and communication strong.

Remember … someday (if not already) you will be one of the “Old Folks,” too!

(1) http://members.tripod.com/mike_mcqueen/elderly.htm

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