By Janis Aston

What are your memories of your grandparents? Think about it a minute. Did they tell great stories? Attend your activities? Read to you? Were your visits to their home filled with laughter, smells of cookies, delicious dinners? Fun around the table? Games? Even if they lived far away, did they make your visits special? Plan fun outings?

Let’s dig deeper. Do you remember your grandparents sharing their faith with you? Did you go to church with them? Did you see them reading the Bible, praying? Was their love of God present in everything they did? Think about it. What do you remember?

Building strong relationships and being intentional with sharing our faith is key. And it starts when our grands are young. Being involved in the lives of kids today looks different with every child, every family. From baseball, gymnastics, music, drama, soccer, to church activities, today’s child is busier than ever before. Grandparents have no control over these decisions. And, as a grandparent, my energy level just isn’t what it used to be! Being a grandparent is a balancing act—maintaining relationships between your spouse, your own children, while building meaningful relationships with your grandchildren.

God says we must do this—”The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Grandparenting with a Purpose, 2019

In October, we had a grandparenting retreat. Thirty people attended and participated in sessions, conversations, and activities. And fabulous food, catered by Elaine Williams!

Even though our families may look different, we have common goals—making the most of the time we have with our grandchildren and sharing our faith with them. Over 100  grandchildren were represented in this gathering of grandparents!

Participants were excited to hear from the “veteran” grandparents. Bill and Annette Howse shared their stories of survival and their wisdom of actually living together. What a blessing they were to everyone who participated in their session and throughout the retreat.

Do you have a financial plan for your grands, for yourself, your children? Jan Williams led a session that was not only helpful, informative, and challenging, but left us wanting more! And there will be more to come . . . stay tuned!

How can you possibly make the most of time when your grands live across the world? Becky and Rusty Sumrall play games via Facetime with their grandchildren who live in Indonesia. Tony Rankin, Becky and Rusty led a discussion group that just touched the surface of issues such as being a grandparent in today’s culturally diverse climate, differences of beliefs, liberal vs conservative, children not attending church/bringing grands to church, and the list went deeper.

Martha Kirkland and I shared two different ways of providing a summer camp experience for our grands. Nana’s Camp, which was for Martha’s own grandchildren, began as a one-night, two-day “camp” with a planned schedule and Biblically-based activities. This grew to a two-night, two-day camp where all of Martha’s grands participated in experiences that built on their relationships with her, each other, and most importantly, God. Because Martha would not accept the many applicants into her camp, including my two grands, I approached Don’s brothers and sister to see if we could have a Cousins’ Camp. The first few years, our grands came from all over the country—Arkansas, Chicago, even Washington state. We now have 17 grands and all of them live closer to Nashville. Our experiences are similar, except we have, thankfully, four sets of grandparents involved. Our goals are the same—building relationships with each other, with all of the grandparents, and with God.

Godly grandparenting in the 21st Century is a challenge and a responsibility. It always has been, but today’s roadblocks have a different look. God will give us the energy and the tools to pass our heritage faith to the next generation.

“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” Judges 2:10

First Grands

First Grands is for you if you are a grandparent—new or veteran­—you either have a LOT to learn or a LOT to share! Are you a “wanna-be” grandparent—are your kids married, expecting, hoping to be expecting? Yes, First Grands is for you!!

Do you have children/teens in our church and your parents are members of another church, not going to a church, live out-of-town but close? And you would really like for them to be a part of a grandparenting group. Tell them about First Grands!

Are you a “surrogate grandparent” (aunt, uncle, friend) who spends time with children in your family? Are you are interested in being a surogate grandparent? We have young families whose extended family live far away. Many of them would love for their children to be involved with godly people who care, not only in the halls of our church but who will come to their baseball game, attend a play, a  choir concert at school, visit on Grandparents’ Day, ask about their report card, and be supportive. First Grands is for you, too!

The next gathering of First Grands will be in February 2020 for lunch, program, and break-out groups. For more information contact Janis Aston.

“I have no greater blessing than to hear that my children (and grandchildren) are walking in the truth” 3 John 1:4.

About the author: Janis Aston

Born and raised in Nashville, Janis is one of those rare breeds or oddities, depending on your point of view. A graduate of Julia Green, Hillsboro High School, and Middle Tennessee State University, Janis is a true Nashvillian. Daughter of Charlie (Monty) and Jane Montgomery, Janis grew up attending Belmont Heights Baptist Church. Married to Don for 47 years, they have one daughter, Somerlie, who after a brief loss of mind, moved back to Nashville, 2016, from Chicago with the Aston’s grandchildren, Jordan, 9, and Asher, 6. Janis has a background in the printing industry, editing and curriculum writing for LifeWay, graphic art and design, and music education. She taught elementary music for over 30 years in the public schools in Nashville, is an independent instructional coach for music teachers while also serving as curriculum design editor and consultant for the brand new National Museum of African American Music. Don and Janis have been members of First Baptist Nashville since 1984.