Yes, I’m Old. Yes, I’m a Grandma. Yes, I love it.

Just Thinking….

Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
    and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
 Even when I am old and gray,
    do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
    your mighty acts to all who are to come.   (Ps. 71:17-18)

That’s me.  I’m old (well, if you consider 64 to be old…), and gray (and proud of it).  And I want to declare and show and teach and tell my grandchildren about the good life.

I am somewhat unique in that I had grandparents for many decades and even knew my great grandfather for many years.  Looking both backward and forward, I have personally known 6 generations in my family.  And that has allowed me to observe the impact and influence of a life lived with integrity and Godliness.

Our sermon today was on the importance of passing our faith and values to the next generation, much like a runner passes on the baton.  This is alluded to in 2 Tim. 1: 5-6:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

Look at the impact of Lois and Eunice on young Timothy!  It was a gift of God!

I am so blessed to have had this same impact on my life and today’s sermon prompted me to reflect on what my grandparents have passed on to me.  These gifts of God live on in me!

From my Grandpa Newquist, I learned the value of a good name.  Whoever spoke of him, spoke of his integrity, his wisdom, his gentleness and soft spoken-ness.  He was a scholar, a farmer, a life long learner.  It was not unusual to see him sit down with his Bible and read.

From Grandma Newquist, I learned the skills of homemaking.  A word that reminds me of Grandma is “bustle”.  She bustled around her kitchen, baking, cooking, canning and preserving.  She bustled around the house, sewing and creating.  She bustled around the garden, growing her well-known flowers and vegetables.  She also taught me to care for the important days of others.  For every birthday, anniversary, wedding, death, graduation, and other dates, she sent a card and a note.  

Grandpa Glenn taught me a quiet humor and how to appreciate and fulfill the unique needs of others.  I remember him pulling out the chair for me at the table, and how he bought me a jar of olives…. my very own jar of olives!  What a treat, and he knew so well that this little girl loved olives.  He honored me as a special person of worth.

Grandma Glenn taught me housekeeping and perseverence.  She was widowed young, yet found ways to continue in life.  She was quite proper and made sure that I knew the proper ways of doing things in society.  And she loved games!  “Ferocious Freda” was her nickname when she played games, and I think I got some of her competitive spirit.  And I remember her also reading her Bible and talking to me of eternal truths.

When I visited my grandparents for a couple weeks of spoiling in the summertime, I knew that I was cherished.  I loved being tucked into bed, and awakening to the smell of toast and coffee and bacon in the morning.  I loved just puttering around the farm, or being able to curl up with a book, or just tagging along and asking questions and observing.  I loved being able to “help”.  When I was with my grandparents on Sunday, there was never a question of whether we would attend church or not.  We just did.  I knew that it was a thread in the fabric of their lives.  There was never a question of whether or not we would pray together before meals or at bedtime.  We just did.

I learned hospitality from both sets of grandparents.  If someone came to the door, that person was fed.  When Grandpa Newquist was in the nursing home towards the end of his life, he saved a piece of fruit from his meal tray so that he could offer to share it with visitors.  If I visited either Grandma, they would put out cookies  or a slice of homemade bread and milk for a snack.

The list of what I learned from my grandparents could go on and on.  But the important thing was that they were in my life, whether we lived close or far apart, and whether I was young or older.  In fact, my grandparents Newquist even took a road trip to Missouri to visit me there during my first year of teaching.  They took me out to dinner and soothed my nerves.  I don’t think I ever really told them thank you for such a grand gesture.  And when each grandparent died, they left a void in my world.

Let this be written for a future generation,
    that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:  (Ps. 102: 18)

Did my grandparents know that they were “writing” those values for a future generation that had not been yet created, or a generation that they might never know?  Two of my grandparents lived well into their 90s, one lived into the mid 80s, and one died young.  None ever had the chance to meet my grandchildren.  Yet the values and faith that they instilled in me are being passed on to my grandchildren.

I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
 things we have heard and known,
    things our ancestors have told us.
 We will not hide them from their descendants;
    we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
    his power, and the wonders he has done.
 He decreed statutes for Jacob
    and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
    to teach their children,
 so the next generation would know them,
    even the children yet to be born,
    and they in turn would tell their children.
 Then they would put their trust in God
    and would not forget his deeds
    but would keep his commands.
 They would not be like their ancestors—
    a stubborn and rebellious generation,
whose hearts were not loyal to God,
    whose spirits were not faithful to him. (Ps. 78: 2-8)

Yes.  I will tell the next generation of the wonders of God.  I will tell them the stories of what God has done in my life, and how He has protected me and saved me and provided for me.  I might tell them some of these things by mouth and I might tell some of these by attitude or by action.  I will tell them of their grandparents…. and great grandparents…. and great great grandparents.  I will show them the joy of the Lord.   I can’t drop the baton.  

How?  We get each grandkid and bring him/her to our home for a weekend of spoiling.  During that time we cook together, eat together, play games, read, do crafts, and talk talk talk.  We go to church together. We pray, and one of our prayers is a prayer-song taught to me by Grandpa Newquist:  “Thank You, God, for loving me.  For giving me the things I need: the wind and the rain and the appleseed…. Thank You, God, for loving me.  Amen.”  Just last week, little Dylan volunteered to lead the family in prayer for supper.  He prayed such a sweet prayer of thanks, and then went right into the prayer-song.  My heart was bursting…..

We take the grandkids on vacation in the summer.  One year, we hopped on Amtrak and rode to Burlington.  It was a great time to just sit back in the observation car, eat snacks, take pictures and talk…..  Last year we took them to Hannibal and did the Mark Twain/ Tom Sawyer/ Huck Finn thing: climbing cliffs, riding a riverboat and exploring caves.  But we also picnicked together, told stories, prayed, talked….  This summer we are taking them to Springfield, IL to explore Abe Lincoln.  And we fully expect to not only walk the roads of Old Salem and go into the presidential library, but also eat, and pray and talk…..

I have taken the grandchildren on a short legacy tour (got the idea from my parents, who did this with their grandchildren).  We visited the little country church that I attended as a girl, and I showed them the pew we sat in, and the organ that a relative donated, and where I stood during programs, and where I went to Sunday School.  i showed them the one room country school I attended, and the farm where I grew up.  At another date, I’ll show them the cemeteries where my grandparents are buried and tell stories of them.

So……… yes, I’m old and gray.  And yes, I’m a grandma.  And yes, I love it.  It’s a privilege and a pleasure.  Maddi, Bradden, and Dylan:  You are precious to me, and I want the best for you.  I want you to know the heritage and legacy that is yours.  I would have no greater joy than to know that you have chosen to walk the same path as your great great grandparents.

I know with no doubt that I will see my grandparents again, as they were professed Christians.  Won’t it be something if my grandchildren, and my yet unknown great grandchildren can meet them in the sweet by and by?  Won’t that be something to spend eternity together?

Father, You have blessed me with the generations before me. Prepare me to carry the baton, and pass on the faith. Amen.

To God Be The Glory….