Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Spirituality and small children

For the past month I have not written regularly in this blog. Nor have I faithfully followed my usual spiritual disciplines. Prayer and silence have been scarce. And it all has to do with the intimate increase of children in my life.

My grandmotherly “duties” have clicked in big time. Of the past 30 days, I have spent 23 of them as a live-in grandma. While this is a privilege I relish, it also takes its toll. I do this alongside my work of being associate director and professor in a semi-virtual graduate school of theology for Latin Americans.

For two years now, I have been giving our daughter and her family one week out of every month. Kristin lives in a town two hours from us, so this means I pack my bags and move into Paige’s room. Kristin’s kids are 2, 5, and 8 years old, and they seem to be excited to see me each time I come. Spending time with them releases some of the pressure on Kristin and allows her to advance in her online courses. She is working on a graduate degree in special education, focusing on children with visual disabilities. (Her two boys are visually impaired.)

This is a special year for us in that our son David and his family are home on missionary furlough from Rwanda. They are living right here in our town. Their four kids are 8, 12, 14, and 15 years old. When David and Debby travel to report to their supporting churches, we stay with the kids. Since we don’t see them that often, we gobble up this opportunity to be a part of their lives.

Right before my last trip to be with Kristin’s family, I asked the small group I meet with to pray specifically that I would be able to find some kind of routine of spiritual disciplines appropriate for my time there. But somewhere in the middle of the week, I noticed that it just wasn’t happening. As I was considering this, a thought came to me and I recognized it as the voice of Jesus. He said, “Nancy, what you are giving to your children and grandchildren is a spiritual practice of devotion. I accept it as worship to me.” I felt immediate relief and joy.

I’m back home now, for a week, and I do enjoy the freedom to manage my time and have adult conversations. That’s one of the privileges of this stage of life. One of the challenges is the temptation to look back and wonder, “Did we make a solid contribution? Did it matter that we lived and worked in these particular ways?” Probably, yes, it did matter. I’m slowly learning to leave the results of my life in God’s hands and just rest in his presence.

But Hal and I agree that, however our life’s work will be judged or evaluated, the time we’re investing right now in the lives of our grandchildren is one thing, at least, that we’re getting right.


  1. I log on almost daily to read the responses of others to this profound blog. Perhaps it strikes me as worthy of conversation because passing on our faith, love and hope to the next generation is a lost art in so many of the communities of which I have been a member. Perhaps I am convicted because our grown children are longing (yay requesting/begging) for more time with us. Alas, for now they live on the opposite side of the country. Nancy, bless you for this wisdom and example.

  2. Thank you, Mary. I do think it's harder for grandparents and parents of grown children in the USA these days because of the mobility of our culture. Families just don't live near each other any more. Your situation mirrors this. It requires much wisdom. And prayer.