Thursday Interview with contributor Abigail Paul

Today we have our second interview with a contributor to the coming book for Christian grandparents, Grandparenting Through Obstacles. Abigail Paul’s story is especially unique in our book because it is the one story that is told from the point of view of the grandchild, rather than the grandparent.

Please enjoy Abigail Paul’s interview and insights today.

GTO: Abigail, what are you hoping our readers will gain or learn from the story you shared about your grandmother?

Abigail: We have to face the reality that life doesn’t always turn out the way we want it to turn out, but we also have the gift of communion with God. My grandmother taught me to keep praying, making prayer a natural, minute-by-minute experience. Developing that relationship with God, learning to depend on Him in good times and bad is paramount.

GTO: What lessons or spiritual habits do you most want to pass on to your own grandchildren one day?

Abigail: Walking daily with God as Lord, Friend, and Confidant. Too often we think Christianity means going to church or following a set of rules, but it’s actually a genuine relationship with our Creator. Jesus is as close as our very breath. I hope they can tell by my life, as I could by my grandmother’s, that talking with Him is a natural part of their day.

GTO: What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by children today, and what role do you see in grandparents helping them with this challenge?

Abigail: It’s easy to see how our world has spun out of control. More children than ever are raised by a single parent, a grandparent, or someone else. Even in two-parent homes there is often a lot of turmoil. Kids need to know they are precious. If we can point them to their Heavenly Father for their identity, so much will fall in place for them.

GTO: What can you tell our readers to encourage them to not give up on their kids or grandkids no matter how bad their situation might look?

Abigail: We need eternal perspective. God doesn’t just see today, He sees forever—past and present. He is a God who desires reconciliation with His creation. Our prayers for our kids and grandkids are prayers He delights in honoring.

GTO: What advice can you give our readers to help them become more intentional about imparting spiritual truths and values into their grandchildren?

Abigail: Little ones are always watching us. When they feel loved, safe, and important with us, they pay attention to the things that help shape who we are. Sharing Christ with them isn’t about a daily Bible lesson as much as living out our faith in our every day moments—praying not only before meals or at bedtime, but when there is a hurt or a joy. Sharing our faith can be as natural as saying, “Wow, God! Thank you for that beautiful rose!” in front of our grandkids, or praying for them when they are sad.

GTO: Is there anything else you’d like to add that wasn’t asked already?

Abigail: Taking time to listen to grandkids is so important. When they feel understood they are more likely to hear those things we long to teach them.

GTO: Thank you, Abigail, for sharing your insights today, and for sharing your story in Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ.

Next week we’re looking forward to interviewing another one of the book’s contributors, Lynn Leissler. Please join us then!

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Keeping in Touch with Grandkids

Greetings! Renee here.

For the past two Thursdays we’ve spoken with Peggy Cunningham, one of the contributors to Grandparenting through Obstacles, and allowed her to share her challenges and solutions to keeping in touch with her grandkids. Peggy is a missionary in Bolivia and had to find creative ways to stay in her grandchildren’s lives–not just across the miles but across continents! In Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview we learned that God gave Peggy the great idea of writing Christian children’s stories using the animals present in South America.

Not everyone will be able to share in such a creative way, through writing or the arts, but there are many ideas out there for how to connect with grandkids–whether you’re across town or across the world.

Reading Peggy’s story reminded me a little of my own childhood. When I was in early elementary, my entire family–parents and older brother–lived with my grandparents because my parents couldn’t afford their own home. When we finally did move away, we moved far away–from Ohio to Florida! We sent plenty of cards and letters back and forth, but we all longed to hear the voices of those we moved away from.

Phone calls were getting expensive. This was way before cell phones, and you were charged by how long you talked on the phone. And the farther away you called, the more it cost! Our alternative was to make cassette tape recordings. My brother and I would take turns talking about everything that was going on in our lives, then my parents would add whatever they wanted to say. We’d mail the tape off, and in a couple of weeks, we’d get a return one from my grandparents. To this day I remember how excited I was to see the small but bulky envelope in the mail!

My, how technology has changed the way we communicate today! Think of all the amazing options we now have for keeping in touch–social media, video conferencing like Skype, email, unlimited texts and voice minutes on cell phones. It’s still not quite the same as being there, and it means that grandparents have to work a little harder to compete for their grandkids’ attention by those very same forms of technology, but it can be done–and much easier than when I was a kid.

As Dianne and I continue to share contributor interviews, you’ll see how others met the challenge of their long-distance relationships, and hopefully they will give you some ideas for your own situation.

In the meantime, we’d absolutely love to hear from you. What has worked in your situation for keeping you connected over the miles? What did you think would work but didn’t? What tips or ideas do you have to share with others? Please send us a comment to share your thoughts.

Thursday Interview with Peggy Cunningham-Part 2

Welcome back to the second part of our interview with Grandparenting through Obstacle’s contributor, Peggy Cunningham. Peggy wrote the story called “I Like Jesus!” in our section on the challenge of long-distance grandparenting.

In Part 1 of our interview with Peggy, she shared with us why she chose to write the story she did and how she hopes it will help others along their grandparenting journey. Today we’re going to continue our discussion with her and learn how God has helped her grow in Him throughout her grandparenting experiences.

GTO: Peggy, how have you grown in the Lord through the challenges you faced in trying to reach your grandchildren?

Peggy: Patience and creativity have changed my frustration into a peaceful acceptance of where I am in my life and where my kids are in their lives. I can rest in the Lord knowing I am doing what He wants me to do for Him, and at the same time He will give me the desires of my heart. My desire is to have a loving and lasting relationship with my grandkids, one that will show them Christ, regardless of the challenges.

Recently, God gave me an idea that maybe others could try. When I couldn’t connect as much with the kids and grandkids because of the hectic schedules we all have, I looked to the Lord for other ways to say I love you and miss you. I am now sending a package about once a month to the grandkids. I put in little things from Bolivia–Spanish books, inexpensive jewelry for the girls, and Spanish song CDs.

Three of my grandkids speak Spanish because they were in a bi-lingual school for a few years. My daughter is fluent because she grew up on the mission field, and she wanted her kids to learn Spanish. We practice Spanish with them on the phone and through letters–another connection.  When the grandkids open a package from far away, they know someone in Bolivia loves them. I am learning to be content in all situations, and trust God to work in my grandkids’ lives.

GTO: Your care packages definitely sound like a God idea! I bet your grandkids just love seeing your boxes come in the mail! Peggy, what do you hope your grandkids will remember most about you when you’ve gone to be with the Lord?

Peggy: Well, in a way, I am gone. Maybe I’m not gone from this earth, but I am gone from their physical lives. Each time we say goodbye to our grandkids, it is the hardest moment of our time at home, or on the field. I wonder if they’ll forget who we are, or worse yet, they’ll think we forgot them. We always tell them we won’t forget them, and we love them.

I hope they remember that we loved them, missed them not being in our lives every day, and always thought of them. Hopefully, I planted seeds so they will always remember their grandparents and want to follow God as we did, and love Him with all their hearts.

GTO: I know God will bless all that you’ve put into their lives and cause much fruit to come of it. Thank you so much for spending some time with us on our blog today. We wish you all the best with your family and your life in Bolivia!

And, thank you for joining us again. To keep up with Peggy please visit her blog at: www.peggyspostings.blogspot.com or check out her ministry at www.rumirancho.com.

Next week for our Thursday interview, we’ll be speaking with contributor Abigail Paul, who wrote about special memories of her own grandmother who helped shape her life for Christ. Please join us then!

Celebrate Grandparenting Through Obstacles Book’s Cover!

We are so very excited to “unveil” the cover of our new book! Here’s the front cover:

Front book cover: Grandparenting Through Obstacles

Front book cover: Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ

Wow. Do you know how thrilling it is for writers to see their names on the cover of a book?! It doesn’t happen often. Our thanks to our publisher, Tracy Ruckman, over at Pix-N-Pens Publishing for the awesome work on our cover.

Please let us know what you think! You can leave a comment for us.

Thursday Interview with Peggy Cunningham-Part 1

Welcome to the first of many interviews with our book’s contributors. We’ve titled these conversations our “Thursday Interviews,” as we will be posting them every Thursday from now until around the end of the year. To kick off our Thursday interviews, we’d like to introduce Peggy Cunningham.

Peggy is a grandma who has spent many years of her life on the mission fields of Bolivia. Although she knows that God has called her and her husband to the Bolivian people, she greatly misses seeing her grandchildren back in America. Peggy’s story, called “I Like Jesus!”  is one of five stories in Grandparenting through Obstacles that discuss the challenge of having a long-distance relationship with your grandchildren.

Let’s hear a little about Peggy’s story…

GTO: Peggy, why did you decide to share the story that you did for our book?

Peggy:  When I heard the book was about overcoming obstacles of grandparenting, I thought sharing my situation might help others who share the obstacle of distance with their grandchild. I know how hard it is to be far away and not feel you are contributing to their everyday lives—and their spiritual lives. It is something I’ve struggled with since our first grandchild was born.

We were there for his birth, but three weeks later we returned to our missionary work in Bolivia, South America. I desperately wanted to have a part in his life, but didn’t know how that would ever happen. Of course, we had pictures, but there was no way to bond. As he got older, Internet became a possibility and also Vonage phone availability. Still, I searched for more ways to bond with our grandson.

Our granddaughter was born two years later.  When the children were three and five, our daughter came to Bolivia for two months with the kids. After that much quality time with them, they knew us as Grammie and Grampie and connected with our place of ministry. When they left that summer, God led me to write books for them about the animals we have on our property.

I included biblical principles so I was also teaching them about God. It was my first attempt to write. God gave me a new ministry, not only for my grandkids, but other kids and adults too. Since then, writing for my grandkids is my way of establishing a legacy for them; a way they will never forget us. Even though we are 6,000 miles away, they know our voice on the phone, they know who we are, and they know we love them because we find ways to connect with them.

No matter the distance or circumstance, God can guide grandparents to connect with their grandkids. We can teach them God’s Word even from a distance. If He can do it for me, He can do it for others.

GTO:  That’s for sure! Sounds like God gave you a wonderful creative way to reach your grandchildren. What do you hope our readers can learn from your experience?

Peggy: I hope they can see that it’s possible to have a real and lasting relationship with their grandkids no matter what the circumstance. God can do all things, even though we think our situation is unique and impossible. Nothing is impossible to Him. I never thought my grandkids would be so close to us, even though we are so far away from them. They know we are close in our hearts.

GTO: I hope your story will encourage many grandparents who live far away from their grandkids. What can you tell our readers to encourage them to not give up on their kids or grandkids no matter how bad the situation might look?

Peggy: Sometimes as grandparents we have to step back. I experience times when my kids are so busy in their lives that they can’t do one more thing. Many times that thing is connecting with us by telephone or emails. Our daughter recently went back to work after 12 years as a stay-at-home mom. Now that she is working, her time is limited and her workload overwhelming, but she loves her job. On top of that, she and her husband moved into a new home.

During this time we weren’t in touch as much. It was hard for me to sit back and give them space to organize their new lives and work through the stress of the new responsibilities. I missed the frequent phone calls and emails, and the nice conversations with my daughter, our son-in-law, and especially the grandkids. That was eight months ago that the changes began, and now it is getting less hectic for them, and we are connecting more once again. Hang in there, I’d say, circumstances change and God is able. At times, we just need to let go and allow God to bring it together.

Thanks, Peggy! I think you’ve given our readers a lot to think about. But I know we’re not finished talking with you yet. Next week, we’ll continue our conversation with Peggy and take a look at how God has helped her grow in Him through her circumstances.

In the meantime, if you’d like to see what Peggy’s up to check out her blog at www.peggyspostings.blogspot.com

Grandparenting through Obstacles Blog Site

Welcome to our very first Grandparenting through Obstacles blog post. We hope our site will become the center point for discussion about the experiences, challenges, and victories of Christian grandparenting. This blog is created by Renee Gray-Wilburn and Dianne E. Butts, co-authors of Grandparenting through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ.

It is our mission through this blog to encourage Christian grandparents in their journey of imparting biblical values and principles to their grandchildren while hopefully helping grandparents to overcome the obstacles they may encounter along the way.

Our book, which is to be released just in time for Grandparents’ Day, 2012, by Pix-n-Pens Publishing, discusses the various challenges that Christian grandparents find themselves facing today. Challenges such as trying to grandparent across the miles, attempting to reach their grandkids with their faith when the grandchildren’s parents are not believers, taking on a more significant role as a result of divorce or other family situations, and just trying to maintain healthy boundaries while working in partnership with their grandkids’ parents.

On our blog, we will be talking through all of these issues and hope you will join in our discussion. What struggles are you facing as a Christian grandparent? What advice do you have for others who are facing these or similar challenges? As a community of believers, we can all learn from each other, encourage each other, and grow as grandparents.

You’ll also meet our book’s contributors who have opened their hearts in their personal stories in order to help others who may be going through similar situations. We’ll talk to them about their stories, their lives, and how God has been working in their families.

To learn more about Renee or Dianne, visit us at our blogs (A Way With Words Writing for Renee, and Deliver Me Book Blog for Dianne). You can also “Like” our book’s Facebook page (Grandparenting through Obstacles) or follow us on Twitter (@GParentObstacle) where we’ll keep the discussion going!