Posts Tagged ‘grandparents’

20131122_174550I wrote last week about the wonderful experience we had with our granddaughter Anna the last week we were in Europe for LST. Again, taking your grandkids with you when you do mission work is truly a formative memory for them. You can leave them no greater legacy than to show them what faithfully doing God’s work can be.

But there are some tips I can give you for making your trip more rewarding for both you and your grandchildren.  Let me just say that Sherrylee and I took our three children with us every summer of their lives until they were college-aged, we have sent many other families with children through LST, and now we have begun taking grandkids with us, so we have lots of experience to share with you.

Tip #1            –           Make sure they are old enough.  If they are your own children, you can take them at every age, but for grandkids, they need to be able to function for an extended time away from their parents. In my experience, 11 or 12-years-old is about as early as you want to start. In fact you have a window between 11 and 14 when it is probably ideal.

  • They may need to be old enough to fly by themselves.  Our two granddaughters both flew individually as unaccompanied minors across the Atlantic by themselves. Of course, a flight attendant always escorts them on and off the plane, but they still had to negotiate the nine-hour flight on their own.
  • At this age, they should be able to entertain themselves (reading, listening to music, video games, etc) when you are busy, but they can also visit with and relate to adults—especially at meals.
  • They also are old enough to try new foods—more or less—and when they don’t like what is served, they don’t make a big fuss, but wait until later to catch up.
  • They are old enough to understand and manage their own jetlag.
  • They are old enough to want to make their own memories, by taking pictures, keeping a journal, or collecting postcards.
  • They are old enough to carry their own luggage and keep up with their own things. (If you teach them to travel light, this shouldn’t be a problem.)

Tip #2            –           Make your plans early enough

  • Their Mom and Dad need to be fully on board with the plans, of course.
  • Determine early on who is going to pay for what.  With ours, the parents paid for the flights and the extra site-seeing costs. We provided ground transportation, lodging, and most meals. Since the kids slept in the room with us, that was rarely an extra expense. Since we almost always rent a car and drive ourselves, that too was no extra expense.  And until they are teens, they really don’t eat that much either.

Tip #3            –           Make sure everybody knows and understands that it is a mission trip             and that the work comes first! 

  • For our gkids, that means that they travel on our itinerary to places we must go and they see the people that we need to see. Our time with them is not built around showing them Europe.

Tip #4 –          Of course you try to squeeze into the schedule something especially                           interesting for the gkids.

  • For our first foray with a grandkid, we spent an hour in Ghent, walking the pedestrian zone before our meeting with the missionaries. Then we stopped at the Heidelberg castle for a walk on the grounds, not even a tour, on our way to the airport in Frankfurt the day before we flew back. The next year with her we planned one day out of eight for an outing in Paris.
  • This year we planned one day out of nine for sightseeing, so we drove to Amsterdam and saw Anne Frank’s house and museum and then went to Zaanse Schans (about 30 minutes further down the road) to a chocolate museum and an open air dutch village full of working windmills. The one other touristy thing we did with her was the Night watchman tour one afternoon in Rothenburg, where we were attending the Euro-American conference for three days.
  • You can sometimes get free layovers in London or other great sight-seeing places either going or coming home. We did that this year, which gave us half a day and an evening in London. We just saw the London Tower and Phantom—but she loved it.
  • Of course these were all fun and special for them, but I hope you can see that we made a balanced effort to do something special for the kids, while not really taking anything away from the work we were there to do.

Tip #5 –          Don’t be afraid to go one on one with your grandkid!

  • We are tempted sometimes to take two at a time, or to let them invite a friend—but I’d suggest you resist that and just take one!  Each one will have their own story then, and you will know that you have made an impact on that one child’s life.  If they are alone with you, then your experiences together will be yours. If they have another friend with them, you will lose many of those special moments you might have had.

Tip #6 –        Give them something meaningful to do!

  • Regardless of the kind of mission trip you are doing, find something meaningful that your grandchild can do. On LST projects, they often read the Gospel with other children. Or they entertain smaller children while the parents read. On our trip this year, we attended a missions conference, so Anna not only participated in the youth program, but she helped work with the younger children.  Meaningful is the key word here.  Even children know when they are just being given busy work or when they are just accessories.

Tip #7 –          Help them remember!

  • With our oldest grandchild, we talked a lot of history as we drove. We told her all about the Reformation and World War II.  Since we’ve returned, we’ve “reminded” her of some of those conversations, even occasionally giving her a little something to remind her of something we talked about.  Just keeping memories alive.
  • With our next grandchild that we took this year, our experience was completely different in that while we drove around, we played “Who Came First” with Bible characters, and we sang and sang and sang.  I’m thinking about making her a Playlist of “Songs We Sang in Germany” or something like that to help her remember.
  • In addition, for both of them, we have given them a photobook with our pictures of them and their activities with us—all the good times!  I’m pretty convinced that most of our childhood memories are directly from pictures that we have seen over and over again.  These photobooks are a very inexpensive way of capturing those memories and giving them to our grandkids in a more permanent and accessible medium than anything digital.

Just do it!  If you put God first, and just enjoy the grandkids, it will be a great experience for both of you!

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A couple of years ago, I did a special Christmas CD for the grandchildren with quite a variety of music.  It was quite a hit, so I thought I’d share it with you! Our grandchildren range from one-year old to twelve, so I tried to make it a mix that the whole family would enjoy.

The Playlist is actually posted on ITunes, but I think all of this music is readily available from almost any source.  OK, here’s the mix.

  • For Unto Us A Child Is Born from “The Messiah” performed by Vienna Boys Choir
  • Carol of the Bells ( Straight No Chaser)
  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town (The Andrew Sisters with Bing Crosby)
  • Little St. Nick (The Beach Boys)
  • Mary’s Little Boy Child (John Denver)
  • Children, Go Where I Send Thee ( Mary Chapin Carpenter)
  • Go Tell It On The Mountain (James Taylor)
  • The 12 Days of Christmas (Straight No Chaser)
  • The Little Drummer Boy (Harry Simeone Chorale)
  • Mary, Did You Know (The Von Trapp Children)
  • Come Darkness, Come Light (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
  • Here Comes Santa Claus (The Andrew Sisters)
  • Candlelight Carol (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
  • Hallelujah, It’s Christmas (Roger Whitaker)
  • Sweet, Little Jesus Boy (Straight No Chaser)
  • Darcy the Dragon (Roger Whitaker)
  • Still, Still, Still (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
  • I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ For Christmas (Christmas All Stars)
  • Pat-A-Pan (David Archuleta)
  • O Holy Night (Andy Williams)
  • Highland Cathedral (Amy Grant album)

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Sugar them up! Super-chlorinate them! Wear them out! Then send them home to their parents!! That’s what we tell our kids we are going to do at Grandkids Camp every year.  (I love the sign in the stores that say,  if you let your kids run wild, we are going to give them donuts and a free puppy!)

We borrowed the idea of Grandkids Camp from some friends of ours in Oklahoma who did it for many years, until all their grandkids grew up!!  We have nine gkids now–the oldest is 12 and the rest are all under 8 years old—so we have a few years to develop Gkids Camp before they outgrow it.

Our OK friends did camp for several days, but a 24-hour version seems to work better for us!  This year, our California gkids are coming in TONIGHT, but Aimee and her children are leaving Saturday for a three-week LST project in Natal, Brazil, so we literally only have twenty-four hours when all of the cousins will be here together!  It was important enough that Aimee has packed early, and Ben and Amber delayed their 4th of July trip one day, so that we could have Gkids Camp with all of the Gkids!

Here’s the rough outline for Gkids Camp 2011

Friday, 2:00         Arrive after naps and after lunch!

Decorate their official Gkids Camp pillowcase. When finished, play UNO

3:30        Leave for movie  (Cars 2)

6:30        Swim

7:30        Roast hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire by the pool, followed by smores!!

8:30        Sing  songs around the fire, tell scary stories,  close with devotional

9:30        Back in the house, pajamas on, spread out sleeping bags and put Camp pillowcases on, then pop popcorn,  talk, watch old movies until everyone is asleep!

Saturday, 7:00am             Wake up, put swimsuits on and go in backyard to play Steal the Flag while the sprinklers are running!

8:00        Make pancakes for themselves and parents. Everybody gets to pour and flip!!

9:00        Parents join us for breakfast and swimming

Cleanup and go home!  Pretty simple, but it will be lots of fun. We will take pictures and put them into a little photo book for all the kids as well.

Maybe you have read Josh Hamilton’s book Beyond Belief, the story of an extraordinary athlete, raised very religiously and with lots of parental guidance, but who went into such severe drug addiction that he lost everything.  He shows up one day on his grandmother’s porch, destitute and with literally nowhere else to go. He goes there because his grandmother’s house has always been a loving and safe place for him—and she takes him in and helps him get on the road to recovery as no one else had been able to do.

I hope we never have to do that with any of our grandchildren—but I pray every day that today, while everything is good and sweet, we will build relationships with our grandkids that help them know who God is and that He loves them and that if they need us, we will be there for them in a day of trouble!

Watch for pictures from Gkids Camp 2011—as soon as Mimi and Grandad recover!!

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Sherrylee and I are reading in 1 Peter right now. I was re-reading chapter one yesterday and got stuck on the phrase “empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors.”

18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Is Peter writing to Gentiles and talking about the empty life handed down by Greek philosophers to most of the Gentile world of the first century? Or did he intend to include the empty life the Jews had received from Jewish legalism and scholasticism that developed after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians?

Or was Peter actually talking to the grandparents of Cassie, Kellan, Canon, Carter, Caroline, Leighton, Anna, Olivia, and Norah?? Don’t we have to take his words personally?

If I am going to be an ancestor, then I really don’t want to hand down an empty way of life to the gkids—not a single one of them. So what do I do as a grandparent to avoid this?

According to Grandparents.com, there are more than 70 million of us grandparents in the United States today, and perhaps surprisingly, the average age is 48. If you live to be 80, you could be a grandparent for over thirty years!!  You need to make some plans and commitments if you don’t want to leave your grandkids an empty life.  Here’s what I’m thinking

  • Grandparents have money! We control 75% of the nation’s wealth and have the highest average income of any other age group.  So, do I pass on a life built around consuming, around accumulating, around toys, around entertainment? Or do I pass on a life focused on generosity, on unselfish giving, on modest living so that others may thrive?
  • Grandparents want to have fun! Grandparents spend 100 billion dollars a year on entertainment and another $77 billion on travel (www.grandparents.com). We’ve worked hard and now we want to play hard—what’s wrong with that?  Well, what the grandkids see is the playing hard, not the working hard, so they learn to play. What they see is me spending my time and money on myself, and that is what they learn to do for themselves as well.
  • Grandparents volunteer more! So take the grandkids with you! Now that’s the way to fill up a child’s life!
  • Grandparents contribute 45% of all cash donations to non-profits! So let your grandchildren help you select where you will give. Let them put the check in the envelope or go online and show them the website.
  • Grandparents have influence! Seventy-two percent of grandparents care for grandchildren regularly and almost six percent of households are multi-generational. I wonder what that number would look like if it included grandparents who live within five miles of their grandchildren!  How do you spend your time with the grandkids? Is it just random, is it only about fun? Do you ever talk? Do you ask them about important stuff—not just their little league batting average.

I can hear the moans now, “But I raised my kids and I’m finished thinking about others. Don’t I deserve to just do what I want?” Do you remember Solomon’s conclusion after he used his power, his wealth, and even his wisdom to research what life is like if you do what you want! He did just what you are feeling and the results were  . . . emptiness!  Is that really the inheritance you want to leave for your grandchildren?

I really love my children and my grandchildren. And you do too! So

  1. If I am going to be a good ancestor, then I can’t retire from being a person of active faith.
  2. If I am going to be a good ancestor, then I will never earn the right to be selfish!
  3. If I am going to be a good ancestor, then I must intentionally teach my grandchildren the way of God, by the way I live and directly in conversation with them.

. . . to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen (Eph. 3:21)





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