Thursday Interview: Contributor Rhonda Rivers – Part 1

After her son married, Rhonda Rivers waited more than ten years to become a grandmother. But after Kevin was born, she was disappointed that his parents never took him to church as she had taken his father. What could she do?

Rhonda’s story “Worth the Wait” appears in the part of Grandparenting Through Obstacles called “The Challenge of Partnering with Parents.”

Rhonda stopped in to chat with us and we had such a good time we’re going to talk with her both today and next Thursday.

GTO:  Thanks, Rhonda, for sharing your story with us in Grandparenting Through Obstacles. Tell us why you decided to share the story that you did in our book?

Rhonda:  Many parents begin praying for grandchildren from the day their children get married and I was one of those. I had all but given up after ten years. In fact, I thought I would never live to see grandchildren. This story is about God’s faithfulness. He answered my prayer for a grandchild, and then answered my prayer for that child to find Him.

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

Rhonda:  My prayer is that readers will be encouraged to be persistent in their prayers. God is always faithful.

GTO:  Give us an update on recent developments with your grandson since writing your story.

Rhonda:  Since writing my story I have enjoyed the comfort and security of knowing that my grandson is attending Sunday school and learning all the stories of the Bible that I learned and that his father learned growing up. The Bible says one generation should tell another about all of God’s wonderful ways (See Psalm 145:3-4). 

GTO:  What has happened in your life since writing your story? Any new developments or fun adventures?

Rhonda:  Since writing my story I have become a grandmother again and I am about to have a third grandchild!

GTO:  Wow! That is wonderful news, Rhonda. Congratulations! Tell us, in what ways do you believe God has used you most in ministering to your grandkids?

Rhonda:  Children learn by watching the people around them. When my grandson is in our home, he sees evidence of our faith all around him. Bible verses and pictures of Biblical scenes grace the walls; bookcases are filled with Bibles, commentaries, and Christian books. In addition, we always pray before meals, something he has learned to do. He often hears the phrase, “praise the Lord,” in our conversations.

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

Rhonda:  When I consider the condition of the world today, I must confess that I am frightened for my grandchildren. All around me I see such a disregard for the Lord and for rules of any kind. It seems like the days of Noah when everyone did what ever they liked and never consulted the Lord. The greatest challenge faced by children today is where to find the truth. As believers we have a fixed point of reference for truth, the Bible. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Grandparents can show their grandchildren where to find Truth in the Scriptures. Besides covering them with constant prayer and telling them about Jesus.

GTO:  Thank you, Rhonda, for chatting with us today and for sharing your grandparenting story. We will look forward to visiting with you more next week.

Until then, you can find Grandparenting Through Obstacles at and on Kindle, and at Barnes and and on Nook. Or ask your favorite bookstore to order it for you. Makes a great gift for a Christian grandparent in your life (or yourself!).


Ten Fun Facts about Grandparents!

Just for fun, here are ten fun statistics about grandparents from

  1. The average age of grandparents in the United States is 48.
  2. 43% became grandparents in their fifties and 37% in their forties.
  3. Grandparents lead 37% of all U.S. households — that’s 44 million households nationwide.
  4. The number of households led by grandparents in the U.S. is increasing at twice the average annual rate of the U.S. households overall, with the number to hit 50 million by 2015.
  5. Grandparents represent one-third of the population.
  6. 1.7 million new grandparents are added to the ranks every year.
  7. 72% of grandparents think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life.
  8. 63% say they can do a better job caring for grandchildren than they did with their own.
  9. 68% think being a grandparent brings them closer to their adult children.
  10. 90% enjoy talking about their grandkids to just about everyone.

Seriously? That last one isn’t 100%?!

We’ll do more another time. Or find more fun facts here: “Surprising Facts About Grandparents.”

Thursday Interview: Ann Kronwald

Welcome back to our Thursday interview series. This week we are speaking with Ann Kronwald, who wrote the story “Jack’s Fear,” the concluding story in our book. In this story, Ann has offered to partner with her daughter by helping to take care of the kids while their mom was on bed rest. Ann’s oldest grandson, Jack, had many fears, and Ann had to come up with some creative ways of teaching him to look to God during those times when he was afraid. One method she used was to teach Jack the various names of God and how we can use them to bring hope and comfort.

Let’s hear from Ann now regarding her story and life as a grandma:

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

Ann: God’s names have been a life raft in my daily struggles. The attributes they represent address my neediness in amazing ways. The grandkids tend to be sponges, so I’ve tried to pass this resource on. Sometimes they stare at me blankly. But occasionally they really get it. I want my story to encourage other grandparents to help their wee folk also rely on God’s incredible character.

GTO: Teaching them about God’s names is a perfect way to show His character. So, tell us, what are some recent developments with your grandchildren since writing your story?

Ann: Jack is still somewhat cautious, most recently wondering how dangerous a crawdad might be. But he has made tremendous strides. His ease at conversing with adults now warms my heart.

GTO: I’m sure much of his progress has been due to your diligence in working with him. 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?

Ann: I have been discouraged at times by parenting situations in my children, only to find later that God had been at work through those very circumstances. I often think of Joseph—how God turned his horrible sufferings into a position of honor that saved a nation. I’m so grateful that God sees the bigger picture and also hears the prayers of His children.

GTO: Yes, I think we can all be very grateful for that! What advice can you give our readers to help them become more intentional about imparting spiritual truths and values into their grandchildren?

Ann: I would say to find a time and method that seems to work for that stage. The toddlers around my house tend to stay busy during the day. But before nap or bed time, a small window of impact opens. A story is requested, and I have a captive audience, so I take advantage with some adventurous storytelling that happens to incorporate redemptive themes.

GTO: Opportunities are all around us. We just need to learn how to look for them and see the situations through God’s eyes. Jack and his siblings are blessed to have you for a grandma!

Ann, thanks so much for sharing your story in our book and for sharing your grandkids with us!

For a quick look into the meaning of some of God’s names, take a look at this “Many Names of God” article. Also, many books have been written on this subject as well.

How Grandparents Can Partner with Their Grandkids’ Parents

One of the four sections of challenges in our book is the challenge of partnering with parents. In some cases, such as when the parents are also believers and they are not in opposition with the grandparents, partnering may come easily to both parties. But even under idyllic circumstances, struggles may arise.

The stories in our book about partnering range from Grandma stepping in to bring church to her grandson when her son and daughter-in-law won’t make family time for church, to a grandmother who had to help take care of her grandson when her son-in-law was in prison and her daughter went back to school, to a grandmother who stayed with her grandchildren for three months and helped her grandson overcome his many fears. (This last story is written by contributor, Ann Kronwald, who we will be interviewing later this week.)

As you can see, partnering may come in many forms. It may be as simple as providing the parents an extra set of hands or offering additional spiritual nurturing of their kids; or it may involve making life-changing sacrifices, such as taking in a grandchild for a period of time. Regardless of the level of difficulty, God’s grace will be available to help you handle it.

As you consider how you might best partner with your son or daughter, take time to invite the Lord into your situation. Here are a few ways you can do this:

1. Ask God about the specific ways you are to get involved. You want to make sure you’re not going to be overstepping your boundaries, but at the same time you want your efforts to be effective.

2. If you’ll be heading into a touchy situation, ask God to go before you and soften the hearts of those involved. Ask Him also to give you the words to say to your son or daughter so as to not cause offense.

3. Ask God to help you respond in love, humility, and in a Christlike manner to each situation you encounter.

4. Ask God to change your heart so that you are willing to be obedient to anything He asks you to do, even if it involves a major sacrifice or lifestyle change.

Perhaps the best way to partner with your grandkids’ parents is to pray for your grandchildren–whether their parents are doing so themselves or not. To help with this, we encourage you to take a look at Christian Grandparenting Network, which has many prayer-related resources, devotionals, and articles, including the Grandparents’ Prayer Card written by Lillian Penner.

And, we’d like to ask you: What is one way you’ve partnered with your grandchildren’s parents and how has God used your efforts?

Thursday Interview: Contributor Annalee Davis – Part 2

Last Thursday we visited with Rev. Annalee Davis. If you missed the first part of her interview, feel free to return to last Thursday and read Part 1.

Now, continuing with Annalee:

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

Annalee:  I believe the Lord has used me in reinforcing what my granddaughters are hearing and learning in their home about who God is and how to have a relationship with Him. Their father is still pastoring, and I know they are in church often. But I think it is important for them to see their grandparents living out the message of the Gospel and living for the Lord Jesus as well. I feel they have been strengthened in their faith as they’ve watched us go through the difficulties of life and still put our faith and hope in God.

I’ve written devotions about my granddaughters that have been published. I always send them a copy of the publication. I’ve shared a publication with them about the healings that have occurred in our family. Their great-great grandmother and great-grandmother had a miraculous healing take place in their lives. I also was healed of an infection that caused the doctors to give me a fifty-fifty chance of survival. I want them to know that they have a wonderful family heritage in the Lord.

GTO:  That is wonderful, Annalee. What advice can you give our readers to help them become more intentional about imparting spiritual truths and values to their grandchildren?

Annalee:  Whenever I am with my granddaughters, I try to impart spiritual truths and values to them. I pray with them before I put them to bed. I read Bible stories to them and send Christian children’s books as gifts. If we are watching television together and I perceive something that is a worldly viewpoint, I share with them what the Bible says about the issue.

It is important to remember that we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and guidance when we are with our grandchildren. When I have had the opportunity to babysit, I often send up a prayer in a difficult situation and the Lord has helped me know how to handle the problem. I try to discipline in love and require that they treat each other with kindness.

GTO:  What do you hope your grandkids will most remember about you when you’re gone?

Annalee:  I hope my grandkids will remember that Grandma loved Jesus and that she was lots of fun! I hope they will be able to recall all the things I’ve taught them about serving the Lord and about life in general. I hope they will remember how I’ve invested in them in practical ways such as encouraging and teaching them to sew, create artwork, bake, play instruments and sing.  Hopefully, they will feel that I always had time for them, listened to them and made them feel important and special.

GTO:  Those are wonderful thoughts, Annalee. Thank you so much for sharing your story and advice with us and ways to bridge the gap of long-distance grandparenting. You’ve given us valuable food for thought and practical ideas to put to use.

Thank you also for sharing your story in Grandparenting Through Obstacles. We’ll be watching for your byline on more Chicken Soup for the Soul stories and devotionals!

New Book Trailer for Grandparenting Through Obstacles

These days there is so much we can do with technology. For authors, there are multitudes of ways to let people know about our books. One fun way is through a book trailer, like a movie trailer but for a book!

Here’s a short book trailer about Grandparenting Through Obstacles. Enjoy!

Thursday Interview: Contributor Annalee Davis – Part 1

Annalee Davis is an ordained minister, conference and retreat speaker, author, harpist and adjunct professor. Her story in Grandparenting Through Obstacles is “Liking Skyping.” It appears in Part 2 of the book: “The Challenge of Long-Distance Relationships.”

We will be visiting with Annalee both today and next Thursday, September 13th.

GTO:  Annalee, why did you decide to share your story about Skyping in our book?

Annalee:  I decided to share my story about Skyping because I know that I’m not the only grandparent who is separated from her grandchildren. I wanted to give hope to those who know the pain of that separation by sharing my experience and how available technology has helped to ease the pain.

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

Annalee:  I’m hoping readers will see that God knows our pain and is able to provide resources to help us in our times of need. He often uses other people to inform us and guide us. My friend informed me about Skyping and my brother gave me the gift of a webcam so I could visit with my granddaughters while away from them.

GTO:  What a great idea for a gift! With National Grandparents Day coming up this Sunda, September 9th, anyone looking for a gift for Grandparent’s Day could help the grandparent in their lives get Skype working on his or her computer, and/or give them a web camera for the computer or possibly other equipment to bridge any long-distance gap between grandparents and grandchildren.

Annalee, can you give us an update on recent developments with your grandchildren since writing your story?

Annalee:  My granddaughters and I still Skype, however we’ve expanded the scope of our visits. Last Christmas we Skyped while we opened gifts. My son and his family had visited with us during Thanksgiving. Knowing that we would be apart for the Christmas holiday, we took the opportunity to Skype on Christmas morning. It was fun to see each other react to the gifts we’d received and to hear, “ Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa.”

Also, during February of this year, my extended family hosted a “game night.” Many of us gathered at the home of my other son who lives here in New Jersey. To start our evening, we Skyped with the granddaughters in Maine so others in the family could visit with them.  They felt included in our family fun. They saw their nine-month-old cousin, my only grandson. Their great-grandmother especially enjoyed the visit. She had undergone open heart surgery and they were delighted to visit with each other. As in the case of their grandfather, my granddaughters saw that their prayers for healing for their great-grandmother had been answered.

GTO:  What has happened in your life since writing your story—any new developments or fun adventures?

Annalee:  Since writing my story, I’ve started a blog at I’ve posted a few of my experiences from a mission trip to Nicaragua that I took in March. It was a challenge and a great blessing to join with other believers and evangelize the mountain villages of Cuajiniquil. I was the oldest person on the trip! I’ve shared some of my experiences over the phone with my granddaughters. I plan to visit with them this summer and show pictures of my adventure, reinforcing the importance of taking Jesus’ command to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

I’ve recently been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride. In it I share the story of how my husband and I met and got married. The piece is titled “Un Bel Di” (One Fine Day).

GTO:  Congratulations on another publication, Annalee! I’ll hope to read that one.

Annalee has so much good information to share that we are going to continue our visit with her next week. Please stop back by next Thursday for the rest of this interview with Rev. Annalee Davis.

Meet Cavin Harper!

I know we typically post interviews on Thursdays, but I wanted to conduct a special interview today with Cavin Harper, Founder of the Christian Grandparenting Network, based in Colorado Springs. Cavin recently interviewed me and Dianne on his new radio program, “Not on My Watch.” The program aired this past Sunday and will be available on the Christian Grandparenting Network website later today.  We hope you will take a listen! In the meantime, I’d like to have Cavin share about his organization and passion for helping grandparents.

GTO: Welcome to our GTO blog! Cavin, you were asked to write the foreword for Grandparenting Through Obstacles. What in particular attracted you to this project?

Cavin: The stories from grandparents who have or are in the process of working through the major obstacles facing them and other grandparents today. I like that these are real-life stories; not theoretical jargon.

GTO:  That’s what attracted us to the project too! We knew a lot of grandparents with incredible stories to share. You’re the Founder and Executive Director of the Christian Grandparenting Network, which is a national organization for grandparents. When did you start CGN, and what prompted you to do so?

Cavin: I started CGN (originally called ElderQuest) in 1998 to help those approaching “retirement” years re-evaluate what retirement really means. When my first grandchild was born, I knew God wanted me to challenge this generation to live for the next to make sure they grew up knowing the Lord. Over time I felt God wanted us to narrow our ministry’s focus to grandparents—to mobilize them to intentionally represent Christ to the next generations.

GTO: Grandparenting Through Obstacles focuses on the various challenges Christian grandparents may face when trying to impart their faith to their grandkids. What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Christian grandparents today?

Cavin: In many ways it’s the Baby Boomer grandparents themselves (which I am) who tend to be self-absorbed, focusing on their own agendas and goals. Too often we fail to recognize the things we do that alienate our grandchildren or adult children. Our job is to be authentic and compassionate without being judgmental in a world that is vastly different from the one we grew up in. We’re also challenged to cultivate intentional, inter-generational relationships. We’re in a unique position to build the bridges that impact the culture and reconnect the generations according to God’s design.

GTO: That’s an interesting perspective, and quite a challenge you throw out to Christian grandparents. How does CGN help today’s grandparents meet these challenges?

Cavin: We’re committed to building a movement of grandparents for Christ who are resolved to radically engage the next generations with truth, righteousness, and authentic faith. We aim to provide resources and opportunities to help these grandparents, and we work to create settings where grandparents and their grandchildren of all ages may grow, serve, and worship together.  Some of the ways we do this include:

GrandCamps—an opportunity for grandparents to spend five days with their grandkids in an intensive time of relationship building, skill development, and spiritual formation

GrandAdventures—a variety of inter-generational events focused on serving others

G@P Groups and Grandparents’ Day of Prayer—gathering grandparents to worship and pray together

“Not on My Watch” Radio Program—a weekly broadcast to encourage, challenge, and motivate grandparents and parents to reach the next generation, often through the amazing stories and resources God has made available to us

Website—we use our website and other social media to help connect grandparents to the network of tools and people available to help them in their journey with their grandkids

Thank you, Cavin, for sharing your passion and the mechanisms you’ve developed to help Christian grandparents pass along their faith. I encourage you to check out CGN and all the resources it provides. While you’re there, don’t forget to download the September 2, 2012 podcast from “Not on My Watch,” where you’ll hear me and Dianne discuss Grandparenting Through Obstacles.