One of the greatest blessings of my life has been the opportunity to be a “Papa” to four wonderful grandchildren: two boys and two girls, all below the age of eight. God has not only blessed my wife, “Mema Jo,” and me with these four precious gifts, but they all live very close so we can provide day care several days each week.
In my role as an Assistant Pastor for Seniors and Legacy, I do a lot of thinking about “LEGACY.” As we complete our blog series on parenting, I thought I would explore the acrostic “LEGACY” as it pertains to being a grandparent, with the hope that much of what I share will also apply to moms and dads.
Y ou are prayed for
When I think of “Love” I am reminded of the many ways God loves us. John 15:12-13 says, “My command is this: Love each other as God has loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” I am blessed with so many opportunities to love on my grandchildren. Thankfully, most of us will not actually be called to give our lives, but we can give our ears, time, encouragement, help and love to our grandkids.
In Titus 2:7 it says, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good.” We can say many things to our grandchildren, but they will ultimately be watching our example to see if our actions are consistent with what we say. When it comes to teaching kids, “as much is caught as taught.” You can be sure that our example will speak more loudly than our words, so we need to be sure to be a Godly example. Pat Williams and Jim Denney in their book, The Difference You Make, commented, “You are continually influencing the people around you for better or worse. So live your life as if you are under a microscope, even in your private moments. Make sure there is no glimmer of daylight between your words and actions.”
One thing I hope that my life shows to my grandkids is that I am filled with gratitude for God’s love and all that He has done in my life. 1 Thessalonians 2:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I regularly remind my grandkids of how thankful I am for each of them and how they are one of the greatest blessings God has given me. I try to emphasize being thankful for what really matters, like God’s love and grace, my wife, kids, grandkids (and their hugs!), friendships, time spent together, etc., rather than for things.
Dr. Paul Stomper, a dear friend, had the opportunity to retire early and one blessing was what he refers to as the “Ministry of Availability.” As a Papa who now works part-time, I have the gift of availability to take my granddaughter to and from the school bus, visit with my daughters when they drop off the kids, and even blow a kiss from the car when I pass them in the neighborhood. This flexible schedule has allowed me to take regular trips with my grandkids to the library, playground and Carrier Dome, as well as just hang out building a Lego village, reading a book or playing catch. As many people have said, one way our children spell love is “TIME.” For those of you not blessed to have your grandkids so close, I encourage you to make use of technology to have regular FaceTime or Skype calls to hear about what is going on in the lives of your grandkids.
As a Christian, my greatest hope for my grandkids is that they will live lives of faith. In 1 John 3:1 it says, “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are.” Mema Jo and I regularly talk about our love for Christ and how he has blessed us. I know that my grandkids will face many choices and challenges in our culture as they grow into adults. My prayer is that they will make the most important choice early on to ask Christ into their hearts so that all their choices are based upon what Christ would have them to do.
The final letter in LEGACY stands for “You would know you are prayed for” on a consistent basis. As I was finishing this blog, two of my grandkids came in to see Papa before their naptime. They were both fighting colds, so I spent time individually with both of them praying for them to get better and to take good naps (Mema and Papa can use a break!). Earlier today, we prayed at breakfast. When our grandson wanted a snack, he asked us if he could pray again, and we of course said no more praying (just kidding). We then told him that God loves it when we pray and that we can pray anytime during the day, as God is always AVAILABLE to hear our prayers.
One step I have taken since my first grandson was born is an annual Christmas letter written individually to each grandchild, where I reflect on many of the memories from the last year. It is my hope and prayer that those letters help to remind my grandkids of how much they are loved by me and by God and how they are blessed to have such loving and caring parents. If you are blessed to be a grandparent, parent, aunt, or uncle, I encourage you to think about the “LEGACY” you can have on others. I encourage you to spend time being intentional with words, through writing or speaking, to build up grandkids that will become strong in the Lord.
Authored by Rich Parisi, Assistant Pastor & Legacy, North Central Church