Celebrating Grandparents

A grandmother in Mongolia teaches her grandson how to make a camel souvenir with felt. Photo: ©2014 World Vision

A grandmother in Mongolia teaches her grandson how to make a camel souvenir with felt.
Photo: ©2014 World Vision

by Tamara Shope, Women of Vision Albuquerque

I spend a lot of time thinking about legacy. My husband and I are working toward an adoption, and part of that has meant preparing ourselves – and not just our home or our finances – for parenthood. We have been intentionally thinking about what our legacy will be, what we want our children to know about us (and the world and the Lord), and how we can accomplish any of it. When I think about how we got to this place in our lives, I realize that we are who we are because our grandparents set things in motion for us.

Grandparents Day is today, September 7th. And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to tell you a story about how God uses grandparents.

They Show Us That Prayer Matters

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

When I was young, my wonderful mother, Mary, was a single parent, which meant I spent my summer days at Grandma’s house. I loved my hours there and wish I had time to tell you more about her. She taught me everything she knew, from how to make tortillas to how to play blackjack to how to pray. The nights I spent with her were my favorite. I would crawl into bed next to her and she’d say, “Are you ready to pray?” Yes, I’d whisper. “Our Father, who art in heaven,” she’d begin. When we finished, we’d say the Hail Mary together. And then, we’d pray for our family, pray for needs, and then we’d pray for the University of New Mexico Lobos basketball team – every player, every coach, by name.

I was too young to really grasp much theology, but I did realize that her faith came down to one truth: Prayer matters. My mom says that whenever anything was going wrong in her life, Grandma would say, “Oh, Mary, just pray.” She instilled in my mom a belief that God hears, which Mom in turn passed along to my brother and me. My grandma met her Savior a few weeks before my 16th birthday, after a long battle with stomach cancer. Just before she became too weak to go out of the house, my mom rented a limousine that took her (and our whole family) to watch the Lobos practice. They lined up to greet her, give her presents and thank her for her prayers. It is one of my favorite memories. When Grandma Stella passed, she was at home surrounded by family, with her autographed Lobos poster on one wall and a large picture of Jesus Christ on another. Her love for family, Jesus and the Lobos is her legacy, and because of her, her children and grandchildren love them too.

They Show Us That God is Mighty

“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” (Psalm 78:4)

My husband, Matt, traces his faith to his grandfather, too. Years ago, his granddad had a major come-to-Jesus moment, which caused him to stop drinking, begin to really love his wife and children, and devote the rest of his days to serving Him and His church. He raised a son who eventually became a pastor. That man raised a son who is now a church elder. That guy is my husband. His granddad would regularly tear up over his past, telling us that he wasted so much time not loving the Lord and not showing Christ’s love to his children. To His last breath, Matt’s granddad preached God’s love and the power of redemption. That legacy mattered to him, and the power of his testimony transformed his entire family.

My favorite story of my husband’s past has to do with this legacy. When Matt was 16, he was the stereotypical preacher’s kid. He was rebellious, a thief and liar, trying to fit in with the popular kids at all costs. One night, he was in bed and he could hear his parents down the hall praying for him and for his future, for the wife he would one day find and for the kids he would one day raise. That night changed so much for Matt. His parents were praying for the legacy Matt would one day have. And Matt realized his choices now would impact his children and his children’s children. His faith was shaped by the prayers of generations who saw God’s redemptive work firsthand.

They Show Us That God is Joy
Our parents are now grandparents too, and it has been one of our greatest pleasures to watch our moms and dads dote on our niece and nephew. We know that my niece, just over a year old now, already gets that her grandma is peaceful and happy and loving. She already has my mom pegged as the perfect spot to take a nap and the perfect partner in crime for a good laugh. She loves stealing her grandpa’s cowboy hat and rubbing her tiny fingers against his scruffy beard.

Matt’s parents are my nephew’s favorite people on the planet. They are fun and patient and kind. Nana makes a killer coconut cream pie (his favorite) and Papa takes him to watch boats on the river. They teach him that God loves him unconditionally, and that God likes it when he laughs.

They Show Us That God’s Love Knows No Borders
Our chapter of Women of Vision recently held its annual fundraiser to benefit maternal and child health in Ethiopia. Of the more than 300 women who have partnered with us in some form or fashion this year, a huge chunk of them are grandmothers. And it is this group that seems most passionate about the work we get to be involved with. One woman has a son who recently adopted a little guy from Ethiopia, so her heart is already tender for the country. She has become a wonderful friend to our chapter, and she has rallied women younger than her to come alongside and join her in child sponsorship and donations. Another woman has gathered people together to make tamales (a Christmas staple in New Mexico), while a handful of others meet every other week to pray for our chapter and for our projects.

There are so many other stories I could tell you, but the point is this: These women, whether they have acted as advocates, prayer partners, co-laborers, or supporters, have shown our community so much about God’s character. They are deeply passionate about showing His love to women and children all over the world. They step out of their homes, far out of their comfort zones and into the lives of others so that they can testify to His love.

This Grandparents Day, I am thankful for the way God uses grandparents to reveal himself to the world. They are evidence of His faithfulness, and we invite you to rejoice over them, to pray for them, and ask for eyes to see the way He moves through this special band of witnesses.

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