Dealing with hard times · Grandparents · Parenting · salvation

The Perfect Treasure

Walking along the shoreline of the ocean begs for shell-seeking. As you walk along, you are blinded by glimmers of colors pressed into the sand. You hear the crunch of the buried bits under your feet and an inquisitive mind wonders what treasures could be revealed just under their sandalled foot.

We bend down and scour the sand. What are we looking for? The perfect shell. Not one that has been walked upon, like we just did moments before! No, we seek for one that is unbroken; one that is completely whole with nothing missing or cracked. Those finds are rare. They are discovered by the early morning seekers, donned in water boots, standing ankle deep in the ocean’s foam to make their find before the lazy beachcombers awaken.

As I surveyed the beach on a mid-morning walk last week, I saw a shell in all its beauty! It appeared perfect! I snapped a picture to document my perfect find!

As I bent down and inspected the shell, I was reminded of how we also seek perfection in the children that would enter our home. “As long as they’re healthy, that’s all that matters!” we say. And what do we do if we find that there is a problem – a crack, if you will?

  • What if a piece is missing, causing an illness or an unwanted diagnosis later on?
  • What if their make-up is strong-willed and stubborn?
  • What if there are special needs?
  • What happens if there is a learning disability?
  • What if rebellion comes with age and maturity?
  • What ever will we do with the brokenness that displays itself at the time when we are most embarrassed by it?

The truth is that every child is broken. It comes as a result of being born into a sinful, broken world that has put sin in their nature. That “crack” will be seen in each child in different ways and different times, but it’s there. The blessing isn’t from overlooking the imperfection, but acknowledging it, for then we can find the Hope needed to comfort and restore.

That hope is the grace of God that brings salvation. As sure as the ocean’s tide will cover that broken shell on the shoreline, God’s grace will cover our child as they hear the message of the Gospel. Their greatest need isn’t to be “fixed,” but to be saved. If their weakness, brokenness and imperfection will point them to Jesus as the Savior for their sins, would it not be a treasure for which we did not ask?

What about illnesses, weaknesses and deformities and struggles that put hardship on the parents? God’s grace is as deep as the ocean, and it is sufficient for each day’s burdens and struggles. As the grace of God is witnessed by His daily strength to help, His wisdom to know how to move forward, and His provision that supplies for needs, that weakness glorifies the God who made that child and formed them in the womb. Surely He also puts in our hearts that this is not forever. One Day wholeness will come.

As I watch the waves roll in, one at a time, the Lord reminds me that that is how grace is given to us – one need at a time – not before we need it, or less than we need, but when we need it, and in sufficient amounts.

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Corinthians 12:9

After careful examination, it turned out that the “perfect shell” I found wasn’t perfect after all. Lovely as they are, I also saw early on that my girls were also broken, just like their parents! Praise God for the saving grace that has been applied to their lives and that is continually working in each of us as we look forward to that day in heaven when we will be like Jesus! That’s when we will see perfection!

Oh, how God’s heart rejoices at those that go looking for the broken! That refers to those that need the Gospel. With whom are we sharing the Good News of Christ?
Are you pouring the Gospel message into your children every day, weaving its message into all of life? As parents, it’s your responsibility!
If you don’t have children in your home, are you teaching the Gospel to your grandchildren or to your friends, neighbors and the people with whom you interact?

Let’s not be looking for what our hearts think we need (perfection) and instead, purposefully look for the brokenness around us that needs the tidal wave of God’s saving grace! There is no greater Treasure!

Child training · children · Grandparents · Parenting

That Special Child

This week I heard a message by Chuck Swindoll that just stopped me in my tracks. Part of the reason is because of the Truths of the Word of God that must be applied to my own life as I continue in sanctification. He spoke from Matthew 15 when Jesus was answering the question the disciples asked about who would be the greatest among them. Do you remember what Jesus did?

He brought a little child and set them in the middle of the group of disciples. He told them, If you want to enter the Kingdom of heaven, you must become like that little child ~

  • Unpretentious,
  • Full of trust
  • No agenda
  • No hidden desires
  • No secret sin
  • No guile
  • Authentic humility

Matthew 18 goes on to say ~

Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones.

It’s easy to look down on a child, isn’t it?
They can seem insignificant.
They can be difficult to deal with.
They are needy.

But Jesus values children. He says we must be like them to be saved. We admit our sinfulness like a child. We trust like a child. We love like a child.

Are you valuing the children in your life? Perhaps they are the children in your home. Maybe they’re your grandchildren. Are there children in your neighborhood? Do you bump into youngsters at church or the park or the grocery store?

Each one is important. Each one has special gifts. Each one has a need for Jesus. Do you see them? Do you take time to speak to them, to make them feel important and noticed? Or do you overlook them?

Then there are other children. Here’s what Chuck Swindoll says about them…

There are those who are weak and fragile and they can’t keep up.
Then you slow down. Take time for them. See the value in them. I love the scene where Jesus talks about future rewards and says,

Matthew 25:40 I was sick and you brought me something to eat. I was in prison and you visited me. I was thirsty and you brought me something cool to drink,

The one hearing it said,

When did we bring you something to eat, or see you in prison and visit you, and when did we bring you something cool to drink?
Jesus’ answer is,

Inasmuch as you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto Me.

Inasmuch as you’ve done it to these who couldn’t keep up,
these with special needs,
these with congenital brain damage,
these with physical conditions that hinder them from being able to run like the other children,
or to have coordinated bodies like other fast-moving and well-coordinated kiddos.
Guard against devaluing a child or discounting them.

Every child is precious to God. Every child is valuable just the way they were born. Don’t lessen their importance in your home – or in this very world. He or she may be just the one to turn this world upside down for Jesus Christ simply because of their “special-ness”.

Children have a way of reaching the hearts of people like none other. See them for the treasure they are and thank God that He brought them into your life so you could watch the things God will do through them and their unique gifts.

Let’s esteem children, every single one of them, as much as Jesus does.

children · Grandparents

How Do You Fill A Grandchild’s Day?

Last week my daughter and son-in-law went out of town for a few days and they left their three year-old twin boys with me and my husband – known to the boys as “Gigi and Pappa.” This was super special for all of us because though the boys have spent a good deal of time at our house, they have never stayed overnight. I must admit that I was a little fearful about how this would all go down.  

  • Would they miss Mommy and Daddy and cry?  
  • Would we be able to keep them busy for three days?  
  • Would WE wear down before it was over?  
  • How would they do when darkness wrapped around their bedroom?  
  • Will they eat the food I prepare? 
  •  Will I run out of things to do?  
  • How will I maintain the structure they are used to?  

On and on the questions rolled in my head.  But I prayed and prepared much, and truly anticipated their time in our home.

I could be a typical grandparent and tell you how good they were, how they went to bed without any struggle, and that we all had so much fun…and that would all be true, but I must also admit that we got tired, and there were a couple times when there was  a bit of a struggle about who would be in control. There were several times I had to stop and pray with the boys. But in the end, Gigi and Pappa won, and each situation ended with smiles and happy hearts.

I’m no expert, for sure! I’m still learning, but today I’m writing this to encourage all grandmothers in two areas: 

  1. I want to remind you of the important role we play in our grandchildren’s lives and also our children’s lives!  We are to be a support. It’s so important that our children know we will uphold their rules and expectations in their absence.  If they’ve been working on immediate obedience and we allow the children to do what they want instead of what we ask, we’re doing both the children and their parents a huge disservice. We’re really making things harder for ourselves as well.  So, don’t cave in and be simply the doting grandmother, be a loving support in the training of those precious children.
  2. I also want to give a few ideas of things you can do with a young child that will fill their days with fun.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a young child in my care for three days, so I gave it some real thought before they arrived so I would be ready.  I didn’t want there to be a time when we were trying to come up with ideas of something to do.  That spells disaster! 

    Now, on with the fun!!!
  • Let them help in the kitchen. Starting with the preparation of the meals to mixing up cookies, children love helping! My boys enjoyed helping to stir up the mac and cheese we had for lunch one day, adding the sauce and toppings to their homemade pizzas, and also setting the table.
  • Give them time for independent play. I had purchased a used set of wooden trains, planes and little village pieces and the boys enjoyed playing with them outside on our patio area. I was nearby, but I tried to encourage them to play together without my assistance.
  • Encourage time outside. I was always one of those moms who would send my girls outside to enjoy outside play. Whine as they might, they learned to love being outside, use their imaginations, and enjoy being outdoors. The fresh air and outdoor play also helps to tire little people out! The boys played in the swimming pool the Lord provided for us, “painted” with sponge brushes and a bucket of water, dug in the dirt of the raised beds, enjoyed wagon rides, played with sidewalk chalk, watered the garden, picked cherry tomatoes, and chased their shadows!
  • Make mealtime fun. I tried my best to make mealtime delicious and fun. The boys sat at the small table on our patio and ate some of their meals there while we sat on the patio furniture near them. I also tried to make foods I knew they liked. This isn’t the time to try new recipes or “weird” foods they have never tried.
  • Try to keep their normal routine. The boys are in bed by 7:00 when they’re home, so we did our best to follow suit. One night we forgot to sing, as they do with their mommy and daddy and one of the boys whimpered a little as we were tucking them in. He asked for a song, and of course we were happy to do that! His disposition immediately grew calm and he went right to sleep! Be sure to find out what their normal pattern is before bedtime. That little blanket, stuffed animal and bedtime story might be the key to helping ALL of you to get a good night’s rest!
  • Library books! Of course we know getting the books from the library can be a challenge right now, but I simply called in my list and picked them up! The boys enjoyed reading in the afternoon, and that quiet time was helpful for all of us!
  • Craft time – Most all children love using a glue stick! I had gotten The Pout Pout Fish (adorable book!) from the library, so we made a pout pout fish for our craft time.

Let me add one more important thought – in ALL the activities and talking you do with your grandchild, point them to Christ. Talk about the Lord. Pray with them over needs and burdens and cares. I have some special memories tucked in my heart regarding prayer times with the boys. Oh, how their faith in what God can do puts me to shame! What a joy to take them to the Throne of Grace!

I hope these ideas will get your creative juices flowing so you can enjoy a sweet time with your grandchildren. I was really thankful that when their parents came to get them, the boys said they wanted to stay longer! They went home, but I was thankful that our time together was special enough to make them want to come back, and that happened without breaking any of their home rules!

What ideas could you add to this list?

Refresh your time with your grandchildren by having fun and supporting their parents at the same time!

Here’s a post about helping your children become more independent, which is what we must be teaching them to do! Remember, you’re training them to become adults!

Discipleship · Grandparents · Mentoring

The Influence of a Grandmother

Being a grandparent has so many blessings!

  • I have an older, gentler way of seeing these little ones! (My children probably wonder who I’ve turned into!
  • I have more time to just sit and play or read stories.
  • I’m not as uptight as when I was parenting – maybe because the ultimate responsibilities of my grandsons’ well-being is not on my shoulders.
  • Big things are little things. They don’t want to eat? “Okay., you can eat later.” Not sleepy? “Let’s take a drive!” That broke? “It’s just stuff!”

But I do realize that while I can play the day away with my grandsons, I do have a HUGE responsibility as their Gigi –

I must point my grandchildren to God!

It’s not my right to “spoil them then send them home,” but to have fun with them all the while I am showing a life that points them to Christ. We see this in Timothy’s grandmother, Lois in II Timothy 1:5. The faith that Lois had in God was passed to her daughter, Eunice and also to her grandson, Timothy!

Today I want to encourage you about one simple way you can do that with your young grandchildren. This is doable if they are local and you see them weekly, but also if you only spend vacation times together. As a matter of fact, part of this could be done using Zoom or an app like Maro Polo. What if you planned out a one hour teaching time, full of Bible truths in story form, activities and crafts to support the lesson, and maybe even a snack that continued the idea of what you’re teaching that day.

I’ve done this very thing with my neighbor children for years and now it’s time to pour into my twin grandsons! As a jumping off point for you, here’s what I do each week:

  1. Decide the lesson to be taught and then realize what the theme for day will be. Search the Internet for lesson ideas (make sure it’s doctrinally sound and not just “fluff.”). Some of my go-to’s are Ministry to Children, Happy Home Fairy and Hands on Bible Teacher. I also search Pinterest. Last week I taught about Day 5 of Creation. The main idea was God made the fish and birds on Day 5.
  2. I look in those places for songs, fun games and activities to go along with the lesson to reinforce the main idea. Last week we sang God is so good (“God made the birds” was one verse!). I got flannel fish and birds and let the boys put them on the flannel board either up in the sky or down in the water. They added pages to their notebooks, and they painted a wooden whale and owl. I added a magnetic strip on the back so they could put it on the fridge.
  3. I come up with a little snack that would help to continue the theme. This week I made “fish” crackers and cheese for their snack. They may not look like fish to you, but that’s the blessing of teaching an imaginative child!!!
Teaching time – God made the fish on Day 5. Where does he live?
Activity pages I found online. I added the pictures, but the little song was part of a lesson.

As we went about our morning together, I just kept repeating our songs about Day 5 of creation. When we went outside, we looked for birds in the sky and I asked them Who made that bird and on what day of creation.

They painted Wooden fish magnets with a “5” written on them to reinforce what God made on Day 5.
Fish-y snacks!

There is every level of lesson and activity out there and God’s Word is relevant to each child and each age. Just teach your grandchildren.
Make it fun.
Be creative.
Teach them God’s Word.

You will be exhausted and maybe even unsure if you got anything into their little heads, but we just obey and leave the results to God.

Some other little suggestions/helps:

  • If you live away from your grandchildren, you could do the story on an app on your phone or computer.
  • If you have teens you could do a Bible study with them. Here is a list of great resources for teens!
  • If you don’t have any children or grandchildren, look around for your neighbor children that could use a woman to teach them! Here’s a post about my weekly time with my neighbors. You can also see how I planned and scheduled our time together.

    The influence of a grandmother is so vital. We will often be able to speak things into our grandchildren’s lives that they would not accept from their parents.

Let’s be a “Lois” and pray for a “Timothy” to be nurtured at our knees.

I’d love to hear any suggestions you may have about how you’ve nurtured your grandchildren in the Lord!

Refresh the life of your grandchildren,