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!

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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 www.annaleedavis.blogspot.com. 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.

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!

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