I am yet again inspired by my son. He has taken being a new parent to a whole new level with his lovely wife as they intentionally plan for their short years with their little girls. They already have a pre-determined set of family value words, milestone events, phases that must not be missed, and email accounts in their little’s names that will be bursting with the love, encouragement, hopes and dreams from their loving parents when they get old enough to read them. They are already building mentor circles, special people who will echo their values, around those little precious angels in defense against a culture that has cast them aside. They have calendar entries for all these important dates up until they will leave home for college. Oh. My. Goodness….I stand in awe of what they are doing and am more than a little bit shamed by what we didn’t do. I am so incredibly proud and humbled by our sons and the men that they became and the husbands and fathers that they are…both because of and yes, mostly IN SPITE of our efforts.
We have learned so much since those early days of being entrusted for another life…actually two lives! Thank you Lord!!. We’ve gained experience and wisdom born of doing some things right and making many mistakes. Since that long ago privilege was laid squarely in our hands, we have allowed new and wise voices to speak into our lives working their way into the cracks of our mistakes. We continue to read the parenting books and watch the TED talks and helpful messages even though we are long past those days of first hand parenting. We are watering and growing our faith and trying to intersect it with our everyday life and the purpose God has for us and.…. I SO pine for a do-over. But as we all know…real life in real time has no do-overs. However, much to my joyful revelation, we do have another chance with another generation…our grandchildren. Just maybe, we can be in one of those circles of intentional influence.
I wanted for us (Steve and I) to create our own mission statement for this season of our life, so I started doing a little research. Mission Statement: a formal summary of the aims and values of an individual. In a graphic about these ideas, I also saw the word road map. I rather liked the thoughts those words conjured up and they resonated with me on a more personal level. Mission statement sounded a little too formal and business-like. Road map settled nicely on my brain. I love road trips and using the map to get from point A to point B without getting lost. Road maps are very helpful tools and I tend to be major league directionally-challenged. That is a topic for another blog. eeeeek!
We have vowed to be more intentional and implement those things that I wish we could do-over…. And instead, moving forward, we can just do! We can decide how we want to be remembered by our grands and design down from that end goal. We can have our own value words that align with theirs and live them out through example. We can create memories and pray that they will embed themselves into their little memory banks.
When I think about what I want my grandchildren to remember about me/us, I remember my own grandparents, Mama and Papa, and the things I loved best about them and being with them. They came out of the Greatest Generation and their values were timeless and of lasting value. I want to capture those things for my own road map destination.
Some of my favorites were time spent in their kitchen. Lots of great conversations happened there. I always felt valued and loved. It was such a comfort zone. Powerful sensory memories remain from those times. Mama was a wonderful cook and she would let me help her and learn. She didn’t use recipes. It was always a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Papa was a good cook too and his specialty was buckwheat pancakes. YUM! Papa would always buy raw honey with the comb and black strap molasses. So many wonderful experiences took place in their kitchen.
They both grew up on farms, so they always had a garden wherever they lived. They grew all kinds of vegetables, and the best tomatoes EVER! I would get to help water, pick , and prepare them. Shelling peas and peeling apples were always favorites. Mama could peel an apple with one continuous peel. She would, in turn, teach me about the outdoor world of plants, flowers and leaves. It gave me a sense of of awe and wonder for God’s creation of the natural world.
They would take me to family reunions and the car drive was invaluable story telling time. They would regale me with tales of their youth and brothers and sisters. I would ask so many questions. Those trips we took together gave me a life long appreciation of my roots and the fabric of my family. It gave me a sense of belonging to something so much bigger than myself.
Mama and Papa also gave me the example of being faithful stewards in giving and serving others. They honored God with their time, talents and resources. I don’t remember them ever talking about any of this, but they provided a powerful example in the way they lived. They helped others, they served at church, they conserved their resources, and they gave generously. I heard stories of their deeds of helping others long after they passed away.
When I think back, I never remember a single piece of technology in connection with my grandparents. Of course it was long before the computer age, but I don’t even remember a single time of sitting and watching television when I was with them. It was all interaction. That in itself is a powerful statement and one I want to leave behind as well.
Therefore, the important words that will make up the legend of our road map will include: conversations, comfort zones, experiences, awe and wonder, story-telling, and faithful stewardship. I want our time spent with grands to be meaningful, impactful, and memorable. We might take some detours down the childhood lanes we once traveled also…. those activities prompted by boredom like tree climbing, fort building, and writing and performing plays. I want God to be honored through all our interactions in every possible way as we support our children raise their children. I’ve got my map….let the road trip begin!
“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination” ~ Earl Nightingale