Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thank You!

Receiving a thank you note is always a pleasure, but sometimes you have to write them to get them!
Part of that equation is the power of setting a good example. When we write thank you notes regularly to our children and grandchildren, even for small things, we set a powerful example of everyday gratitude. It's important to say “thank you” in person, but a written note is tangible evidence of that gratitude. It allows us to express our thanks in a way that's usually more memorable, especially if we apply a little creativity to the way we write a thank-you note.
We can include a photograph or drawing, write a silly poem of thanks, or share a story of how much we appreciate the gift or kindness. A good thank you note is a model for our children and grandchildren to follow as they write their own thank you notes.
Which brings us to the second part of that thank-you note equation.
As a kid, I was a slacker about thank you notes. A cranky great aunt-by-marriage noticed this lack of etiquette on my part and complained loudly to my grandparents and parents. I felt terribly embarrassed until it occurred to me that she never ever wrote thank you notes herself for the gifts or kindnesses others extended to her. She only demanded thank you notes from others.
I never worried about thanking her in writing again.
This holiday season we'll have lots of opportunities to thank others for what they've given us, or what they've done for us. I want to remember to look for ways to say -- and write -- thank you in ways that are fun and creative. I want to let the people I love know I appreciate them and the effort they make.
I want to make them smile.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Three Opportunities

Are you alert for opportunity?
As grandparents we are influencers. We have the opportunity to influence our own children as they parent, and we have the opportunity to influence our grandchildren as they grow up. But it's easy to miss those opportunities if we aren't looking for them.
Here are three ways to maximize the opportunities that come our way:
* Listen to what's happening in the lives of your loved ones. What are they interested in or concerned about? There may not be anything tangible you can do, but you can always let them know you care about what they care about, and you can always pray for them.
* Invite them to your house, not in a “command performance” way or a “won't you come help me” way, but in a “I'd like to cook dinner for you” or “I just baked cookies, can you come for tea?” kind of way -- that is, not always for chores or obligation but sometimes just for fun!
* Invest in the relationship. Make time to let your loved ones know you love them by what you do, as well as by what you say.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Beans and a Grateful Heart

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?
I'm not -- too much cleaning left to do, and once again I've overestimated either how quickly I clean or how much dust there is left over from the last time I dusted (which might have been longer than I thought . . . )
I've been thinking about how cleaning and shopping for turkey aren't all I need to do to get ready. I want to get my heart ready for Thanksgiving, too -- I want it to be filled with gratitude to God, because His blessings are abundant and because of His lovingkindness toward me and those I love.
So -- if you'd like to know more about Beans for Thanksgiving, and what they have to do with a grateful heart, please stop by the Hearts at Home website!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Looking Back, Looking Forward, Singing It All

What an amazing time we live in! It's not as if that's anything you've not noticed, I'm sure, but sometimes when I think about my own grandparents, born in the very earliest 1900s, and my grandchildren, born in the last years of the 1900s and the earliest years of the 2000s -- I'm amazed at the changes, the advances, the differences in what my grandparents experienced as children and what my grandchildren experience.
But Scripture tells us that from age to age, God does not change. And because of that, as the hymn says, I Stand Amazed.

As grandparents, we have a unique opportunity to share the best of what's gone before with our grandchildren, including the hymnody of our faith. That doesn't mean we can't sing those hymns in a way that fits the specific time we live in. Bart Millard has done that with two hymn collections, Hymned No. 1 and Hymned Again. If you like blues, country, soul, Southern rock -- you'll find a little bit of all those styles in these collections.
As hymns do, these look back, but they also look forward to the time when Jesus comes again: What a Day That Will Be!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Card, A Note, A Gift from Grandma

I have a stack of Thanksgiving cards sitting on the kitchen counter, waiting for me to sit down and get them ready to mail.
I used to think Thanksgiving cards were a ploy by the card companies to get us to spend money, but one day I realized that, really, they are an opportunity to tell my kids and grandkids how thankful I am to have them in my life.
We always make a point of telling them that when they come to share Thanksgiving dinner with us, but sometimes not all of them can be here. And a card is something a child can tuck under a pillow or into a box of keepsakes; it's there to remind him that he's loved when we're not there. Sometimes all of us experience a time of loneliness, a time when silence seems to overcome our sense of belonging somewhere.
A card with a hand-written note that says “I love you and thank God for you” is a gift that speaks into the silence.
So, I'll make myself a cup of tea, and get those cards signed and ready to mail, and while I do that, I'll be thinking about each one of those precious people, thanking God for them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Two Tips for Holiday Planning

We spent a little time yesterday with two of the grandkids. A museum trip and dinner out proved both fun and interesting -- what a privilege it is to watch a child come alive to history!
On our way home we drove through snow flurries. It reminded me that the holiday season is almost here, and it's time to get ready. You'll find what I think about that in my blog post Getting Ready for Company on Inspired Bliss. Please stop by!
And if you'd like to include the kids in your preparation, check out my column Thanksgiving Fun on the Hearts at Home website!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Three Surprises

Some weeks are full of delightful surprises.
Last week I received a letter from one of my granddaughters. It was a project she'd done in pre-school, a finger-paint print of her hands. Pink, her favorite color, with a note telling me I was a great grandma. I think I'll frame it.
Not only that, but phone calls. Several of our kids called just to talk. They weren't phone calls I was expecting, which made them even more of a treat. It's easy to underestimate how much a phone call can mean.
And finally a Skype call from a 2 year old cowboy, sporting the new hat his very smart mom picked up at the Halloween clearance sales. He was in fine form, ready to herd cows and whatever else it is 2 year old cowboys do.
It makes me wonder what kind of delightful surprises I can plan for someone else.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Coffee and Conversation with our Father . . .

There's something about sharing conversation and a cup of coffee with a good friend.
In my case, and perhaps in yours as well, that conversation and cup of coffee might often involve prayer -- I get the coffee (and thank God for it!) and share the conversation with Him.
It's important for us as grandparents to pray for our kids and grandkids, and I wrote about that this week for Inspired Bliss in "A Gift Worth Giving."
I invite you to pour yourself a cup of coffee and check it out!