Thursday Interview: Susan Lawrence

Welcome back to another Thursday interview post. Today we’d like to introduce Susan Lawrence, author of the story “Jesus House.” We hope you enjoy learning a little about her.

Susan with her grandkids

GTO:  Susan, in what ways do you believe God has used you most in ministering to your grandkids?

Susan:  My grandkids think of me as the grandma who does things with them: picnics, hikes, bike rides, and field trips to the zoo or the science center. Wherever we go, whatever we do, our faith is a part of the day. It may be a prayer before our picnic, a spiritual discussion in the car, or a bedtime Bible story.

GTO:  So, like we’ve talked about on this blog so many times before–making the most of every opportunity. What advice can you give our readers to help them become more intentional about imparting spiritual truths and values into their grandchildren?

Susan:  I feel a sense of urgency like I have never felt before. None of us knows how much time we have left, or how much time the world has left. The time to impart our faith is now. Our children, grandchildren, and the world are in desperate need of it.

GTO: This is so true, Susan. And the reason we wrote this book is to help grandparents do just that in spite of the obstacles they’re facing. What would you say is the greatest challenge faced by children today, and how can grandparents help them with this challenge?

Susan:  I believe the greatest challenge our children face is defending their faith in a culture of an “anything goes” society. Grandparents can help by answering their grandchildren’s questions with answers based on Scripture (even if they have to say, “I need to look that one up myself!”). When talking about current issues in the news, respond with what the Bible says about it. And, most important of all, grandparents need to model their faith, how they live it, and how they share it with others.

GTO:  That’s great advice. What might you tell our readers to encourage them to not give up on their kids or grandkids when they’re going through such challenging times?

Susan:  First Corinthians 13:7 tells us that “love always hopes.” I have clung to that verse in the lack of anything substantial, to offer hope, knowing that God is the Almighty God, in control of all that happens here on earth, and loving and merciful toward our children and grandchildren far more we can even imagine.

GTO:  That even encourages me right now! In looking at the specific story you shared with us, what are you hoping our readers will gain or learn from it?

Susan:  My hope is that other grandparents will be encouraged to share their faith with their grandchildren whenever and however they can, knowing that no matter what the circumstances, their influence on their grandchildren will be a positive, life-building experience.

GTO: And finally, what do you hope your grandkids will most remember about you when you’re gone?

Susan:  I want them to remember that I loved them, laughed with them, and learned with them. And I want them to always, always know I prayed for them.

Thank you, Susan, for spending time with us today. I know your story will be an encouragement to everyone who reads it. If you’d like to learn more about Susan, please visit her at www.SusanRLawrence.com.

Don’t forget, Grandparenting Through Obstacles is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble in both paperback and digital versions. Order your copy today!

Authors featured on KRDO Radio in Colorado Springs September 2

We were privileged to have Cavin Harper, executive director of the Christian Grandparenting Network write the foreword for our book.

Cavin is also the author of Not On Our Watch!: Courageous Grandparenting in a Turbulent World, which is a call for “grandparents and parents to rise above the conventional view of grandparenting to embrace radically courageous life that stands apart from the politically correct crowd. It’s a call to intentionality—not settling for simply being good parents and grandparents, but choosing to stand in the gap and live as conduits of grace and truth for the next generations.”

Another hat Cavin wears is radio host of his own show on a mainstream over-the-air station in Colorado Springs. Cavin invited Renee and me to be his featured guests on his radio show called “Not on My Watch: A Call for Radical Grandparenting in Turbulent Times”  this week!  We will be talking with Cavin about our book, Grandparenting Through Obstacles.

Want to tune in? Here are the details:

  • KRDO News Radio
  • Tune in at 105.5 FM or 1240 AM
  • Show airs 7:30 AM Sunday morning
  • Renee and I will be on Sunday, September 2
  • The station is also live-streamed on the internet. Click Listen Live Online here.
  • If you can’t tune in, a podcast will be available a few days later.

Please tune in if you can, and invite your friends, family, and contacts to do so as well! Thanks! We’ll see you in Radio Land.

Thursday Interview: Contributor Elsi Dodge

 

Elsi Dodge has written her own books, including RV Tourist: Tips, Tools, and Stories and stacles, Elsi wrote the story of Anne Agovino. Recently, Elsi visited with us a bit.

GTO:   Why did you decide to share the story that you did in our book?

Elsi:  My own grandmother (Mother’s mother) was such an important part of my life, and I continually find myself in awe of my friend Anne’s grandparenting. With grandchildren of varying ages, both blood and by love, all wanting attention from Anne and Frank, they have developed wonderful ways of touching each child individually.

GTO:  What are you hoping our readers will gain or learn from your story?

Elsi: That there are no limits, no walls, no required structure for sharing love and faith with children.

GTO:  What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by children today, and how can grandparents help them with this challenge?

Elsi: I’m a teacher (public school, private school, tutor, Sunday school). Children today crave stability—the surety that someone who loves them will continue to love them, no matter what. The certainty that love and family, and the Lord, will “never leave nor forsake” them. Parents divorce; families move to other places; life has a hectic pace. Grandparents—especially through technology such as Skype—can be a stable and comforting presence through life’s vicissitudes. Regular contact, little traditions, cards and notes through snail mail, emailed photos, photo memory books, stories about “when your dad was your age,” stories about “when you were little”—kids need these! (Hey, we all do!)

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?

Elsi:  God doesn’t give up on us! You can keep loving, keep acting in agape love, keep praying. Look at David—murderer, adulterer … yet a man after God’s own heart.

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

Elsi:  If you don’t, who will? Teach it, preach it, walk it, live it, share it, discuss it, never act shocked or rejecting, model God’s love in all you do.

GTO:   Didn’t you recently take a trip to Israel? Tell us about that.

Elsi: I visited Israel this spring with a group from church. It was never even on a wish list, but the Lord put it together for me, and it was a life-changing experience (cliché, but absolutely true!). In an old photo album, I found a picture of Granny in 1964 on the Mount of Olives, in a skirt and elbow-length gloves (of all things!). Since I just turned 65 and therefore inherited the principal of her estate, she paid for my trip. I asked the tour guide to take my picture in the same place, to build continuity for me. Nobody could have planned for that connection, but it’s a solid one.

My point? You never know what will make a lasting impression on your grandchildren. Enjoy them!

GTO:  What an awesome story, Elsi. Thank you for sharing it. I appreciate how you share the stories of your life.

And thank you stopping by today.  I know I’ll look forward to reading more of your stories about your travels and your life.

Origins of Grandparents Day

If you’ve spent any time on our blog at all, you are certainly aware that Grandparents Day is coming soon–September 9 to be exact. But what else do you know about Grandparents Day? Here are some interesting tidbits surrounding this still-somewhat-obscure holiday.

Most people attribute the concept of Grandparents Day to Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade. Marian was a West Virginia mother of 15 who gathered enough support for a unique day that would pay tribute to grandparents that in 1973 the mayor of West Virginia made a proclamation for Grandparents Day.

Five years later, President Jimmy Carter issued a federal proclamation for this special day to be celebrated the first Sunday after Labor Day.

Over time, Marian’s descendants established the National Grandparents Day Council. According to this nonprofit organization, their mission and goals are as follows:

The purpose of the Council is to enlarge and enhance
the celebration of National Grandparents Day by
cultivating intergenerational activities throughout the year.

Our goals are to honor grandparents and to strengthen
the bond between grandparents and grandchildren.
Additionally, we strive to draw compassionate attention
to the eldest of society’s elderly–those in nursing homes. 

(see http://www.grandparents-day.com/aboutus.htm)

And, something else you may not know…Grandparents Day has its own song!  “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa” by Johnny Prill was written just for this special day. Not even Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or Thanksgiving have their own song!

For more information on the history of Grandparents Day, go to Grandparents-Day.com. And, for some great ideas for Grandparents Day activities and crafts, check out Grandparents.com.

And, of course, for the perfect Grandparents Day gift, look no further than Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ!

Thursday Interview: Tracy Ruckman at Pix-N-Pens Publishing

Dianne here. I well remember that wonderful day when my phone rang and on the other end was Tracy Ruckman of Pix-N-Pen Publishing! I remember Tracy said she would like out book, then politely added “if it’s still available.” It was. Renee and I were thrilled! And today that book is out and available to you!

We asked Tracy to share her thoughts about the new book from Pix-N-Pens, Grandparenting Through Obstacles. Here’s what Tracy had to say:

Being a product of divorce, and then divorced myself, when Dianne and Renee’s manuscript arrived in my Inbox, the subject matter of Grandparenting Through Obstacles resonated soundly.

I recognize, acknowledge, and am grateful for my paternal grandmother in particular, because she never stopped praying for me or teaching me by example of her own life. She never gave up on me, even when she and my mother were at odds all during my childhood, during my parents’ divorce when things got bitter, or through my own wayward teen and young adult years.

I sometimes wonder if Nanny’s knees resembled James’ own “camel knees” – her love for me and my siblings kept her on her knees for more hours than we should ever want to admit.

The four sections of the book are so relevant in today’s climate. Grandparents face such obstacles as their own children not walking with God. How do they impart their faith to the next generation? Or long-distance grandparenting – with today’s mobile society, it’s rare that grandchildren grow up near their grandparents. How can grandchildren experience their grandparents’ faith when they’re so far away? Non-traditional families present a third challenge – step- and blended families, foster and adopted children, and even grandparents raising grandchildren – more and more grandparents encounter these types of obstacles on a daily basis. Finally, even when circumstances are all you’d hoped and dreamed they would be, grandparents must recognize their role in the child’s life, and partner with parents to nurture the child in ways to foster the child’s own relationship with the Lord.

The various sections of the book make it interactive – the authors and contributors provide practical steps to take and offer hundreds of helps and hints that grandparents can apply to their situation immediately. Each chapter ends with applicable Scripture, a suggested prayer, and plenty of space for making notes or writing prayers of your own.

In Jim Ertel’s endorsement, he made a statement of vital importance that mirrors our own reasons for publishing this book. Mr. Ertel wrote, “The role grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren has never been more desperately needed.”

There is no greater gift, no greater responsibility as a grandparent than to plant seeds of faith in the lives of your grandchildren. No one – NO ONE – else has the influence or inside knowledge that you have as a grandparent, and no one has a more vested interest. This generation – and future ones – depend on the grandparents of today. They need you. We need you.

Thanks, Tracy. Thanks for publishing our book and for investing in the lives of these grandparents and grandchildren.

Grandparent Day of Prayer

 
 
Cavin Harper at Christian Grandparenting Network is asking grandparents all over the world to unite in prayer for their grandchildren on Sunday, September 9, 2012.
 
This date is officially National Grandparents Day.
 
Cavin Harper has called a “Grandparent Day of Prayer” for grandparents all over the world to “stand in the gap” for their grandkids’ generation. Cavin writes:
 
“Join thousands of grandparents around the world to stand in the gap for their grandchildren on the second annual Grandparents Day of Prayer on September 9, 2012. Just as Esther stood in the gap for her people, grandparents can stand in the gap with prayer for their grandchildren.
 
“The first step is to sign up on our website and commit to participate in the worldwide movement to pray for our grandchildren on September 9, 2012.”
 
Participants who sign up will receive a link to download a prayer card, 31 Scriptures to Pray for your Grandchildren.
 
From the Grandparent Day of Prayer page, you can also help spread the word by sharing on Facebook. 
 
For this second annal Grandparent Day of Prayer, Cavin asks, “Why not gather a group of grandparents in your church or community to pray with you?”
 
 

Thursday Interview: How It All Began

Renee here. Last week we heard from Dianne on how she got roped into–er, I mean, how she came about getting involved in the Grandparenting Through Obstacles project. This week, I’d like to share from my side of the fence of how the idea for this book began.

As I’ve mentioned before, like Dianne, I am not a grandparent; but unlike Dianne, I am a parent. My kids are still young, and all are still in school. During one of those many days when I feel as though I am literally living out of my car, driving kids to school, to the dance studio, from track practice, and so forth, I noticed–maybe for the first time–just how many grandparents–not parents–were doing the exact same thing as me!

But these grandparents were rather young–mostly in their 50s. After getting to know some of them, I began learning their stories. One was filling in for Mom because she was a working single parent. Another was stepping in temporarily while the family tried to recover from a divorce. Another had gained full custody of her grandchildren due to an abusive marital situation that her daughter was in.

And, although my kids attend a public charter school, a large majority of the families at the school and in my community at large are Christian. I discovered that aside from simply providing physical assistance, these grandparents desperately wanted to influence their grandkids for Christ. But many found themselves in situations where that just wasn’t possible.

The more I thought about all of these circumstances, the more I realized how prevalent these problems are in our society today. Combine that with the aging Baby Boomers, and the fact that 1/3 of all adults (and growing) are grandparents, and I realized there were a lot of people who needed some help and encouragement, especially those who are trying to make a spiritual impact in their grandkids’ lives.

I believe that God sowed a seed in my heart that day to try to reach these grandparents with His Words of hope–letting them know that He cares about them and their families–and that with His help, their dream of seeing their grandchildren come to know Him would be realized.

After doing some preliminary research through various government agencies and places like Barna Research, I felt confident that this book could potentially touch–and change–many lives. I truly felt it was a God idea!

I didn’t want to tackle the project alone, so I enlisted the help of my writer friend, Dianne Butts. After an initial conversation about my vision for the project, we both spent some time praying about it, and we soon both decided it was meant to be.

And the rest, as they say, is history! Seeing this book go through its various stages then finally grow and materialize into what it has become with the help of Pix N Pens Publishing, has been a very exciting process. I only hope that it will bless others as much as it has blessed me and Dianne just being a part of it.

Grandparenting Through Obstacles Book Launch Today!

Please help us celebrate the official launch of Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ! We are so excited that our book is finally “live” in both print and digital versions.

Please take a moment to go to our Amazon link and click the “Like” button next to our book’s cover. You can also find our book online at Barnes and Noble.

For those of you who prefer e-books, we also have a Kindle version at Amazon.com and a Nook version at Barnes and Noble.

Don’t forget that Grandparents’ Day is just around the corner, and our book would be the perfect gift for any grandparent wanting to make a difference in their grandchildren’s walk with the Lord.

Please help us spread the word!

Slowing Down to Grandparent

We all know how crazy life can get when you’re parenting little ones. It seems as though you never have a moment to yourself. We don’t normally associate such a hectic lifestyle with grandparents, however. When I think of grandparents, my mind immediately drifts back to my own childhood when I spent considerable time with my maternal grandparents.

After a full day of Whiffle Ball, my brother and I would bike back to my grandparents’ house and join them for some refreshing lemonade on the front porch. On hot summer nights we’d walk through the neighborhood with them, hearing stories of neighbors they had known for 20 or 30 years! Everything seemed to move in slow motion when we were with our grandparents–maybe because they moved in slow motion!

But times have changed. Grandparents today are younger, hipper (is that still an “in” word?), and definitely on the go. I regularly see grandparents chasing their grandkids on the playground, hanging out with them at arcades, and riding bikes with them. I can’t envision my grandparents doing any of this when I was young! But because many of these grandparents are actually fulfilling a parenting role in their grandkids’ lives, they almost have to do these things just to keep up with them.

But this makes me wonder…are grandparents today falling into this same trap of busyness that parents have, and how will this affect their grandkids? I know what it’s like to have young kids in the house while you’re trying to work, take care of the home, make time for God, and also make sure you’re taking time to teach them about God. It’s exhausting–and it seldom all gets done. Many grandparents are now in this exact same place. Many are still working, while some have had to come out of retirement in order to financially care for their grandkids. It’s a tough place.

On this blog, you’ll hear Dianne and I talk a lot about being intentional when it comes to grandparenting. It’s times like this that require it. I’d like to encourage grandparents today to try to slow down a little, especially when you’re with your grandchildren. Take time to walk and talk with them, sharing the things of God as you go. Teach them a craft or a skill. The last time my dad came to visit, he and my teenager spent hours together in the garage on some electrical project. I have no idea what they were doing, but my son still talks about the time he and Grandpa Tom spent together that day.

My husband, our three kiddos, and Grandpa Tom (Christmas ’08)

They will remember the times that you share with them forever. And the seeds you plant for God’s kingdom will take root in their hearts. But you have to make time to sow those seeds. Plan times together when they are your sole focus–then watch God come and join you.

How do you slow down to grandparent? Have you missed teachable moments with your grandkids because of your busyness? We’d love for you to share your experiences with us!

Don’t forget that Grandparents Day is right around the corner. Grandparenting Through Obstacles makes an excellent gift for all those grandparents in your life. You can now find us on Amazon.com!

Thursday Interview: Dianne’s Journey to Grandparenting Through Obstacles

Dianne E. Butts

Dianne E. Butts, co-author of Grandparenting Through Obstacles

I remember well that phone call almost three years ago when my writing friend, Renee Gray-Wilburn, called me to talk about the idea she had for a book. She had done the research. There was precious little in the way of books and resources for Christian grandparents. Yes, there were a few books for grandparents, but not many. Especially for Christians. She wanted to write a book. And she wanted me to co-author it with her.

She had e-mailed me her ideas earlier. I was delighted that she wanted me to be her co-author, I told her. But I had a couple of concerns with the book idea. Let’s talk about it, I said. So here we were on the phone talking about it.

You realize I’m not a grandparent, right? I asked. Yes, she did. She isn’t either, she said.

Well, you realize I’m not even a parent, right? Yes, she said. She is at least that.

Okay, well as long as that’s clear. It was, she said.

I thought of the book I currently had in process at the time. That book is published now. It’s Deliver Me: Hope, Help, & Healing through True Stories of Unplanned Pregnancy. I’d put that book together even though I’ve never been pregnant. I wasn’t writing out of my own experiences for that book. I was helping others tell their stories–stories that needed to be told and shared, because they could help others.

There is great power in true stories.

How are we going to market this book? I asked. It’s not like either one of us has a great platform to reach grandparents. Nearly one-third of all adults in the United States are grandparents, Renee told me. That’s nearly 70 million.

Wow. Really?

The average age of grandparents in this country is 48. No kidding? 43% became grandparents in their fifties, 37% in their forties. (Gransparents.com)

Wow again. Okay.

Many of our friends and peers are already grandparents, and many of them are Christians who want to reach their grandchildren with the good news of faith in Jesus Christ. Renee and I decided we could reach them if we had a resource that could help them.

Renee had a friend who was facing great obstacles to reach her grandchildren for Jesus. They were living in another country. They weren’t getting the Christian influence in their lives that her friend longed for them to have. The idea was sparked. We would gather true stories of real grandparents who were facing obstacles in influencing their own grandchildren for Jesus Christ, but who were trying and were seeing fruit from those efforts. We would help them share their stories. We could add resources, ideas, Bible stories, and…perhaps most importantly, prayer. Renee insisted this book be full of prayer.

Yeah! We could do this. I knew it. Renee knew it. And so we put the word out to our writer friends, and word spread. We started gathering stories, and we were on our way.

We had publishers show interest in late 2010. We wrote the manuscript in 2011. The opportunities with those first publishers didn’t pan out, but we then had a complete manuscript and it wasn’t long before we found Pix-N-Pens Publishing. We were thrilled when editor Tracy Ruckman called. She was very interested in our project. She offered a contract, we signed, and now the book is due out this month!

And we couldn’t be more exited! Here is what some people are already saying about Grandparenting Through Obstacles:

For Renee and me, our prayer is that this  book will help you, Christian grandparents, overcome any obstacles you face to reach your grandchildren (and children, if need be) to see them come to faith in Jesus Christ. Through that, we pray this book will bear eternal fruit for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, and that therefore His Kingdom will be filled to capacity, because together, we made a difference here.

The book releases August 17th, only a few weeks away! You can find it on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and most online outlets. Your local bookstore can order it for you if you request it. We hope you’ll get it, enjoy it, and perhaps get an extra copy for your favorite grandparenting friend.

May God richly bless you as you bear the burden to reach your grandchildren for Jesus Christ.