“They Call Me Grandma” – Guest post by Elsi Dodge

Elsi with Bianca after visiting David in jail.

Elsi with Bianca after visiting David in jail.

I’m single, divorced. No children, no grandchildren. A quarter-century of special needs students, all of whom I consider “mine,” plus the teens in my church youth group. Not to mention a dog and a cat, whom I consider my family.

On Saturdays, I lead a homeless outreach in Boulder, Colorado—we provide a safe place off the streets and out of the weather, along with a Christian message and music, a high-quality hot meal (our cook is a homeless chef), and fellowship. Over the months, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the regular guests.

Dave is young, with curly hair and sparkling eyes. We chatted chat idly about the menu, and one day he and his girlfriend started volunteering to help man the appetizer table or call names from the clothing distribution list.

Then he said, “You remind me of my grandma! Do you want to do that cheek thing?”

“Uh …”

“Grandma always did it! I hated it! Do you want to?”

“I can if you want me to …”

He turned his cheek to me, and I poked it as if making a dimple.

“No! Not like that! You should pinch the cheek! I hate it!” he told me, grinning.

So I gently pinched a fold of his cheek, commenting, “My grandma used to spit on her handkerchief to wash my face.”

“Yeah, that’s gross!”

About half an hour later, he was back, turning his head so his cheek was reachable.

“Wanna do it again?”

So I pinched his cheek again, a bit baffled by the whole exchange.

“Hey, Bianca! This here’s my new grandma!” he called.

“Hi, Grandma!” she responded happily.

We played this game for several weeks. Occasionally I would use both hands, one for each cheek.

“Oh, Grandma! You’re so funny!”

After a few weeks when I didn’t see them (the homeless population is pretty mobile, especially when the weather is fine), Bianca showed up again, alone.

“David’s in jail,” she told me. “He wants his grandma to come visit him.”

O—kay … I suppose that’s in the range of grandma responsibilities … but if this grandma-thing is going to be a real relationship, then I must also have the privilege and responsibility of praying for David and Bianca, keeping track of them after our outreach closes for the summer, and bringing them something fun from my next trip in the RV.

I know my granny loved me … maybe I can pass some of that love on to Bianca and David!

 ~ ~ ~

RV Tourist by Elsi Dodge

RV Tourist by Elsi Dodge

Elsi Dodge contributed the story “Let them Come” to Grandparenting Through Obstacles. She drives a 30-foot RV in her travels with a beagle and a cat for companions. She is the author of RV Tourist: Tips, Tools, and Stories, a handy guide for those wishing to travel by RV as well as entertaining stories from her own travels. Learn more on her web site at http://www.rvtourist.com/rvtourist.php.

Great Grandparenting Quotes!

 Sometimes grandparents say the darndest things–about themselves and their grandkids! We hope you’ll enjoy these quotes that are sure to bring a smile to your face.

The best babysitters, of course, are the baby’s grandparents. You feel completely comfortable entrusting your baby to them for long periods, which is why most grandparents flee to Florida. ~Dave Barry

On the seventh day God rested. His grandchildren must have been out of town. ~Gene Perret

When grandparents enter the door, discipline flies out the window. ~Ogden Nash

If your baby is “beautiful and perfect, never cries or fusses, sleeps on schedule and burps on demand, an angel all the time,” you’re the grandma. ~Teresa Bloomingdale

Never have children, only grandchildren. ~Gore Vidal

Grandchildren: the only people who can get more out of you than the IRS. ~Gene Perret

If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers. ~Linda Henley

A friend of mine was asked how she liked having her first great-grandchild. “It was wonderful,” she replied, “until I suddenly realized that I was the mother of a grandfather!” ~Robert L. Rice

The idea that no one is perfect is a view most commonly held by people with no grandchildren. ~Doug Larson

Grandparents are there to help the child get into mischief they haven’t thought of yet. ~Gene Perret

Just about the time a woman thinks her work is done, she becomes a grandmother. ~Edward H. Dreschnack

Grandchildren are God’s way of compensating us for growing old. ~ Mary H. Waldrip

The reason that grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy. ~Sam Levinson

An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again. Anything longer than that, and you start to age quickly. ~Gene Perret

Something magical happens when parents turns into grandparents. Their attitude changes from “money-doesn’t-grow-on-trees” to spending it like it does. ~Paul Linden

My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle. ~Henny Youngman

Two things I dislike about my granddaughter — when she won’t take her afternoon nap, and when she won’t let me take mine. ~Gene Perret

Few things are more delightful than grandchildren fighting over your lap. ~Doug Larson

If I would have known that grandchildren were going to be so much fun I would have had them first. ~Bill Laurin

The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent. ~Sam Levenson

Co-Author of Grandparenting Through Obstacles wins “Books of Hope” contest

Co-author of Grandparenting Through Obstacles, Dianne E. Butts, has won the non-fiction category in Pix-N-Pens Publishing’s “Books of Hope” contest.

In 2012, Pix-N-Pens Publishing, the same company that published Grandparenting Through Obstacles, held a contest to search for manuscripts to publish. Early on, publisher Tracy Ruckman said that she had noted something disturbing in the faces of people she saw everywhere: hopelessness. She wondered what she could do. So she sponsored the contest to look for books on hope to publish in order to take hope in Jesus Christ to the hopeless.

The contest was announced in May. Pix-N-Pens and its sister publisher, Write Integrity Press, wanted entries in both fiction and nonfiction. They also wanted stand-alone books and books in series of three.

“I was inspired by the contest,” Dianne says, “but I wasn’t sure what to enter. I didn’t have anything that fit the ‘hope’ theme in the works.” So what did Dianne do? “I went to my concordance and started looking at how many times the word ‘hope’ was used in the Bible. I found about fifty uses of the word in the New Testament, 31 in the Psalms, 18 in Job, and interestingly only 12 elsewhere in the Old Testament.

“I thought I could write a brief chapter or devotional-style entry on each occurrence and so that’s the idea I pitched to the contest in the 3-book series nonfiction category.”  The first book in Dianne’s “Days of Hope” series will be 50 Days of Hope from the New Testament.

Finalists were announced in June. “Lucky for me,” Dianne says, “there were far more entries for fiction that for nonfiction books. Everyone wants to write fiction, but nonfiction is purchased far more often. When people need help, they reach for nonfiction.”

The winners of the contest were announced on January 23, 2013. You can read the official announcement here: “2012 Books of Hope Nonfiction Winner” Announced. Scroll down for the winners of the fiction categories.

When will Dianne’s books release? “That has yet to be determined,” Dianne says. “Right now Pix-N-Pens has me very busy with two other series I’m writing for them.” The second book in her “Prophecies Fulfilled” series, titled Prophecies Fulfilled in the Death & Resurrection of Jesus, releases next month just in time for Easter. The first book in that series, Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus, released for Christmas 2012 and is available now. Like Grandparenting Through Obstacles, it’s a great resource for individual use or group study.

Dianne is also contracted for a 3-book series of fiction, the “Springs Eternal” series starting with Hope’s Diner, which is scheduled to release later this year.

If you enjoyed the help and inspiration you found in Grandparenting Through Obstacles, you may be interested in Dianne’s “Days of Hope” series when it’s available. In the meantime, you should check out other books published by Pix-N-Pens (PNP) and Write Integrity Press (WIP), such as their just-published book Parenting On Your Knees by Vicki Tiede. You can also find inspiring, good, clean fiction including WIP’s Valentine’s Day release, Heart Bouquets and their Christmas release, The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt.

All of PNP’s and WIP’s books are available at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, other online outlets, and on Kindle and Nook as well.

You can learn more about Dianne from her blog. To stay up to date with new developments with both the authors of Grandparenting Through Obstacles, visit Dianne’s Amazon page and Renee’s Amazon page.

Solo Grandparenting and Missing Grandpa – Interview with Author Janet Chester Bly

Author of The Power of a Godly Grandparent and many other books

Author of The Power of a Godly Grandparent and many other books

 Today we have an special interview with author and grandmother Janet Chester Bly.

GTO:  Janet, you and your late husband Stephen wrote The Power of a Godly Grandparent/Leaving a Spiritual Legacy by Stephen & Janet Bly (Beacon Hill). What prompted you to write this book?

JCB: When we first became grandparents, we wanted to be all we could be for those precious little ones. As we looked to other grandparents as role models, we wanted to pass on to others what they were doing right to impact the next generation. Many of the ideas for this book come from not only grandparents, but also parents and grandchildren who contributed their experiences.

GTO:  Please give us an overview of some of the chapters.

JCB:  Chapter 1 “The Power of Seeking God First”

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God … and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33 KJV). Grandchildren are part of the ‘added things’ in our lives – not the first thing. There is one first thing – The kingdom of God. If our grandkids see us put God first, rather than just talk about it, they get the message through us that God is important. When we love them, in spite of the circumstances of his or her birth or anything else out of their control, we show them Jesus.

Chapter 9 “The Power of Sharing Spiritual Truth”

This chapter shares some  dos and don’ts of conveying spiritual values. We advise to make it natural, sincere, and consistent. We talk about dealing with grandchildren who are unresponsive to the Gospel. 

Chapter 13 “The Power of Praying For Your Grandkids”

Make a picture prayer journal for each one. Develop a monthly prayer calendar. Pray for their education. Pray for their salvation. Pray for their careers. Pray for their wisdom. Pray for them in their trials. Pray for their health and safety. Let them know that you pray for them. Ask them for prayer requests. Share with them a prayer request of your own.

GTO:  We know Stephen went home to be with the Lord and you must miss him terribly. How has his home-going affected your grandparenting? What have you done differently or learned to do? How did you help your grandchildren deal with it?

JCB:  My husband passed away on June 9th, 2011 and I’m still learning how to live in my world without him in it. He left a huge hole in our family and we’re trying to get used to not having our leader in so many ways as part of holidays, decisions and the spark for all sorts of activities.

I feel inadequate as a “single grandparent” to be what we were as a couple for them. I can’t toss the little ones up. I can’t build play gyms for their yards. I can’t talk or do sports as well. Lots of things are different. But I discuss their grandpa and what he did when it seems right to do. I show them all the love that I can. I let them know when I’m sure their grandpa would be so proud of them. His and my photo together is in each of their homes and even the little ones mention him sometimes. Even the 4-year-old knows he is in heaven with Jesus.

One of the hard things was selling Grandpa’s pickup, so they no longer had that reminder when I drove up in it. I am so thankful for the books that he wrote, a heritage for them all for many decades to come. I’m making sure they all have copies of every one of them.

GTO:  Any updates on your life, coming books, or projects in process that you’d like to share.

by Stephen Bly (his final book)

by Stephen Bly (his final book)

JCB: My three sons and I finished Stephen’s last novel that he had started, Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot. Set in 1905 on the Oregon coast, ex-lawman and Arizona rancher searches for his missing U.S. Marshal friend and grapples with the strange game of golf on behalf of a charity celebrity tournament. It’s full of adventure, humor and a bit of romance.

Can a committee write fiction? We had the passion and four months to find out. Completing Dad’s novel became a family affair. You can find the story about the process on the blog at our website: http://www.blybooks.com/

I’m also working on an epistolary novel (a novel in letters) set in the latter 1800s, with the working title, The Passions of Jennifer Ashby.

 GTO:  Thank, Janet, for visiting with us today and for sharing your story. I know it’s going to touch someone out there. Find out more about Janet’s books at these links …

website: http://BlyBooks.com

“On A Western Trail” blog: http://BlyBooks.blogspot.com 

by Stephen and Janet Bly

by Stephen and Janet Bly

Download Kindle Bly Books: http://amzn.to/VFM4r0
Download Ebooks & Estories: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/janetcbly  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janetchesterbly
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BlyBooks
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/janetcbly/

Are You a Helicopter Grandparent?

Today we’d like to share with you a wonderful post from Cavin Harper at Christian Grandparenting Network. If you haven’t checked out The CGN website yet, we encourage you to do so. It is filled with resources, insightful articles, and podcasts from Cavin’s “Not on My Watch” weekly radio program–all designed to help you become a better and more intentional grandparent.

In this article, Cavin shares on the downsides of being a “helicopter grandparent.”

Are You a Helicopter Grandparent?

Joyce likes to hover. She hovers over her daughter by examining and critiquing everything she does. When her grandson was born she hovered—“That’s not the right way. Let me show how to do it, dear.” When the child was sick or had a runny nose, she would drop by with the recommended remedies and makes sure they were probably administered. At every stage of development, Joyce was there with her advice and ‘words of encouragement’, which translated mean, “Let me show you how to do it.” Her daughter feels like she is still treated like a little girl. Even her grandson, now eight, feels smothered by Grandma’s attention.

Hovering grandparents (or parents) are like a helicopter always looking over another’s shoulders and beating them with the constant battering of wind and chatter. I have talked with many parents, especially mothers, who resent the constant ‘hovering’ of a mother or mother-in-law. Men are not exempt from the hovering offense either. Men do like to ‘fix’ things, after all.

Wise grandparents understand their boundaries and even discuss them with their adult children to make sure that they are not violating those boundaries. Our goal as grandparents is to build up and enable our adult children to be the best parents possible. Interference and giving advice are not the approaches that will help them succeed as parents. There are times when it is necessary to give advice, but mostly it should be given only when asked.

Wise grandparents trust their adult children to make mistakes and learn. More importantly, they trust God to protect and guide. They know when to step in and when to stay out. Wisdom builds up. Hovering foolishly tears down. May God grant you wisdom so that you can land that helicopter and do some groundwork of building solid foundations for a strong home.

~~~~~~~~

In writing Grandparenting Through Obstacles, we quickly discovered that the issue of establishing boundaries and balance between parents and grandparents was a major concern of many grandparents. They’re never quite sure if they’re doing too much or not enough, or if they should even dare ask.

Because of this, we decided to devote one-fourth of the book to “Partnering with Parents.” In this section readers will learn of other grandparents who have struggled with the issues of boundaries and balance and how they successfully navigated through its troubled waters. We hope you will check it out for some creative ideas that may help you or someone you know.

Thank you to Cavin Harper for sharing his insights on helicopter grandparenting! You can check out his original article on this topic on the CGN blog.

Contagious Joy and Faith in Grandparenting by Author Karen Whiting – Guest Post

Karen Whiting, AuthorToday we have a guest blogger. Karen Whiting is the author of many books, a mom, and a grandmother. Thanks for stopping by today, Karen!

I only lived two houses from Grandma Doody. Struggles in learning to knit and do other things with Grandma helped shape my outlook on life. Here’s a familiar scene with grandma, my cousin Cathy, and me:

“Grandma, I messed up again,” Cathy cried. She threw down her knitting needles and half-knitted pillow.

“And I have one too many stitches on my needle.” I wailed.

Grandma said, “Well that’s why we call our club the rip and stitch club where we…

“Do more rippin than stitchin.” Cathy and I completed Grandma’s words.

 “I think it’s time for our tea and biscuits break.” Grandma said.

 “I’ll get the cups and tea.” I said.

Grandma let us set up for tea while she looked at Cathy’s mistake. She had to pull out a few rows of work and put the stitches back on the needles. Then she knitted a row to help Cathy catch back up to where she had been. She helped me too before she sat down for her tea.

Sometimes Grandma found a mistake in her work, but mostly it seemed she pretended to find one, way back near the beginning. She laughed as she ripped back rows and rows of work to help us feel better. Grandpa would come in, it seemed on cue to snitch a biscuit, shake his head, and tease her, “Why I’ll never get a vest to wear. I hope we’ll have a warm winter so I won’t be left freezing. Maybe you should let the girls knit it. They seem to be getting farther along.” We would giggle and after tea return to our work determined to do better so grandma could finish the vest.    

*  *  *  *

My Grandma reminded me of young David in the Bible. David explained to King Saul that “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37). Over tea grandma shared stories of coming through the depression and two wars and how faith and ingenuity sustained her during troubles. I watched grandma care for grandpa as his health failed and he died. I saw her strength and dignity as a widow and her own battle with cancer when she still got us laughing.

Grandma’s contagious joy and faith in God taught me to keep a positive outlook. Persistence in little struggles helped me persist through the writing rejections to many published books, struggle as a military wife when my husband deployed, and cheerfully care for my dying husband.

I love creating things with my grandchildren and patiently help them press on in little things. I love laughing with them, yet also held them close as they cried at the loss of Papa and listen to their problems. I don’t live so near them, but when I am with them I am totally in the moment.

Some of my favorite books I write are inspirational craft books. I hope they become opportunities for grandmothers to talk with grandchildren and instill unshakeable faith in them.

~~~ 

Fun crafts to do with your grandchildren...and more

Fun crafts to do with your grandchildren…and more

Karen’s latest book is My Mini Dream Room

Make cool furniture, curtains, pillows, and decorations to create a mini room fit for any princess. This book is packed with mini-inspirational thoughts to encourage spiritual growth and spark imagination. Plus, girls will find room to journal their tiniest thoughts to supersize faith and fun.

Visit Karen Whitig’s web site today: http://www.karenwhiting.com/

Team Grandparents

As we’ve mentioned before on our blog, one of the purposes with our GTO book and blog is to connect our readers to various resources available that can help them on their grandparenting journey. One such resource I recently came across is Team Grandparents.

Team Grandparents is an organization founded by Dr. Denise Fraser Vaselakos. Denise is a licensed psychologist with over 15 years of experience providing comprehensive therapy for adult women and men, adolescents, children, and families.

Due to the nature of her job, Denise sees on a regular basis the effects a fallen society has taken on families and sometimes especially children. As she states, “We are seeing the pornography industry and the drug industry taking the health and future of our children and adolescents and destroying marriages.” Her solution? Prayer!

“I just want grandparents to know how critical their prayers are for all of our grandchildren at this particular time in our country,” says Denise.   “I believe that first and foremost we must pray for a hedge of protection around our grandchildren, infants, children, teens, and our adult grandchildren.”

In essence, this is what Team Grandparents is all about. It’s groups of grandparents coming together on a regular basis to pray for the grandchildren they know–whether their own, those in their neighborhood, or those in their church. Team Grandparents is an organized body of grandparents who meet in homes or at their church for the specific purpose of such prayer.

The mission of Team Grandparents as stated on their website is:

“To assemble and mobilize Christian grandparents across the country to pray, mentor, love, and encourage our grandchildren.”

Aside from prayer, Team Grandparents is hoping that their member grandparents will take the charge with some creative activity ideas that will reach out to grandchildren in an effort to “mentor, love, and encourage” them. Some ideas they already have for reaching grandchildren include: baking and sending cookies to grandchildren in the military or universities; sending notes of encouragement; and having a Secret Share Day where grandparents share the secrets of favorite family recipes, how to handle finances, or knowledge about how to do small home repairs.

The point of all of this is to let today’s grandchildren–regardless of their age–know that there is someone out there who cares about them, is praying for them, and is acting as a godly role model for them. What grandchild doesn’t need this?

I’d like to thank Denise for not only sharing her story with us but also for offering to place copies of our GTO book in the waiting room at her practice and on the resource list that she shares with her patients. We believe, as does Denise, that what her patients need more than anything else is godly encouragement, wisdom from the Scriptures, and prayer.

To learn more about Team Grandparents, please visit their website at www.teamgrandparents.com.