When a grandparent dies, there’s always this angst of “I wish I’d have asked them more questions.” There’s so much I wish I knew about where my parents came from, what they were like when they were younger, what was important to them at various times in their lives, where they were with God when they were 30, 40 and 50? My folks died without sharing their full story.
As a grandparent, I’m not letting that happen. I’m taking the offensive. Here’s what I’m working on.
I’m writing our family story and I’m going to read it every year at Christmas. Just like Jewish families recap the history of the Hebrew people every year in the Sadir ceremony, we’re going to create a tradition where ‘my people’ are going to hear our story every year. Not going into the distant past. Not into genealogy and all that. I’m documenting the story of OUR family as I’ve experienced it. What we knew, saw, and experienced as children, adults, parents, and now as grandparents. We want to tell the story of God in our family. Watching as my dad tithed $10 from his $100 weekly income. The story of our baptisms, years growing up, ‘wandering off the farm’ followed by surrender and redemption. Everything that’s relevant and meaningful. I want my kids and grandkids to hear our story in our voice while we’re still here, (hopefully) many times. We want them to hear us express our gratitude to the Lord for all He’s done . . .
Then you and the Levites and foreigners among you should rejoice, because the Lord your God has given good things to you and your family. Deut. 26:11 (NCV)
Another thing we’re planning is to “bless” each grandchild. Gary Smalley and John Trent talk about this in their classic book The Blessing. They describe a simple process where you find a positive character quality in the child and talk about it, using examples and making it authentic. Using words to cast a vision as to how God might use that quality in a special future for them. Following Jesus’ model, they suggest some sort of meaningful touch . . . something special they’ll feel and remember. We’ll probably “lay hands” on their heads somehow and whisper a prayer in their ear. Smalley and Trent reminds us that there’s more to it than just saying some syrupy words. Whoever gives a ‘blessing’ is stepping into an active commitment to personally support the one being ‘blessed’. That means we’ve got to be intentional and get in the game.
One last idea. About a month ago, I made a journal with pages for each of my grandkids. I put a photo of each grandchild on the front page of his/her section. Whenever I pray for them, I write the prayer in that journal under their name. (I already see how inconsistently I pray for my kids and grandkids . . . I’m convicted to do better!) How cool will it be to hand my granddaughter a notebook full of prayers written and sent up by her grandfather over years and stages of her life? How loved will my grandson feel as he reads what I was praying for him when he was 5, 13, 17 years old, throughout college and beyond? Maybe their faith will be strengthened as they read those prayers and recognize God’s hand on their lives.
Active Grandpa. Intentional Grandpa. Engaged Grandpa.
Will you be one? Or encourage yours to be one?
If you missed Part 1, you can find it here.
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