My grandparents were about the age I am now (double nickels baby!) when they took my older brother (3 years old) and me (18 months old) in to live with them. They moved from our house “in town” to the house in the country with two toddlers in tow. We even helped her pack up and everything! (Every grandmother reading this knows how helpful that kind of help is…)
We settled in the “country house” quite nicely. There was a garden big enough to feed us through the summer and provide canned goodness all throughout the winter months. My brother and I would play outside for hours. Freeze tag. Basketball. Baton twirling. Jump rope. I would “drive” the tractor and act like I was going to town. We would lay upside down on a small hill and create images out of the clouds…elephants, dinosaurs, faces, dogs, birds.
My Grandpa worked a swing shift running the burn off at Anchor Hocking. He would take naps at curious times of the day, curious for a young child who did not understand what working a short-change over entailed. But I would be right there beside him…on the wooden floor but always in the sunshine, under the shade of the tulip poplar tree out back and my favorite on the red vinyl recliner in the basement. Nothing felt more like a refuge than falling asleep on your Grandpa’s belly, me trying to match him breath for breath while the Statler Brothers belted out Flowers on the Wall on the vinyl:
Countin’ flowers on the wall
That don’t bother me at all
Playin’ solitaire till dawn with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin’ cigarettes and watchin’ Captain Kangaroo
Now don’t tell me I’ve nothin’ to do
I mean: Vinyl chairs. Vinyl records. The Statler Brothers. Life was good.
Because of Grandpa’s seven-days-a-week swing shift factory job, I spent the majority of my time with Granny. I learned to cook and bake for which my family is thankful! I learned to love simple things like drinks from a hose, noticing when seeds began to pop up through the soil, the art of make believe, and to never say within earshot that I was bored. I learned to grow things…flowers, corn, tomatoes, peas, strawberries, onions, potatoes and most importantly my faith.
We grew up going to a little country Methodist church where indoor plumbing was a luxury we didn’t have until well into my elementary school age years. Our church always had the retired guys who still loved to preach but was too old to have a “real” church. Granny took my brother and me every Sunday. No matter what. No matter the weather. No matter the whine. And definitely no matter the attitude.
If we gave her too much grief, she would close her eyes, move her lips in silent prayer after which, we would all climb in the ‘72 Pontiac and head to church. I was never sure if she prayed for wisdom or prayed for the patience to not snatch us bald headed. Either way, when Granny prayed, we listened…out of fear of a lightning bolt from God or a lilac switch from Granny…we behaved ourselves in the pews of that little country church.
Her faith was lived out in the faithful way she lived. Quietly raising up her second round of kids. No fluff. No fanfare. But a confidence in Christ to see her through with the grit and grace she needed day by day.
Granny was essential in how I grew in my faith.
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There’s one little verse that packs a powerful punch for those of us who have entered the delightful role of being a grandparent and in particular a grandmother.
Paul is writing a letter to Timothy, encouraging him to continue his ministry, letting him know how much he is missed and reminiscing of their last time together. He continues:
That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! (2Timothy 1:5MSG)
We don’t know much about this dynamic mother-daughter duo except that they were steadfast in the raising up of young Timothy in God’s word. Some believe that because Lois was listed first, she was essential in her grandson’s faith.
But as for you (Timothy), continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2Timothy 3:14-15ESV bold is mine)
Paul doesn’t mention anything about Timothy’s grandfather, Lois’s husband, so we don’t know if he’s passed away or simply not involved in helping to teach him about God. Perhaps he is an unbeliever like Eunice’s husband is thought to be. (Acts 16:1)
No matter the reason, this Granny didn’t let that stop her from being involved in her grandson’s upbringing in the faith. Here again because the word whom in verse 14 above is plural, it leads one to believe that both Eunice AND Grandma Lois were deeply involved in all things spiritual, taking care that this little boy was acquainted with the sacred writings.
While we may not look at this as such a big deal today, it took some grit and tenacity to step into those sandals and walk the path of being the spiritual leader to what would become a close associate to the apostle Paul, a giant in the faith.
I wonder if Lois ever closed her eyes and moved her lips in silent prayer as a young Timothy whined about going to church? Maybe he hopped on in the chariot, not knowing if his Grandmother was praying for wisdom or a whippin’ but knew to not push it when she got to the point of praying!
Lois was Eunice’s mother. Eunice was an adult woman, a wife and a mother herself. The situation had the possibility of not being ideal: they were raising a child who might not have had a grandfather and a dad who was not a believer. Lois could have said she’d raised her family and would rather spend her time doing what SHE wanted to do.
Yet she chose to give. Of herself. Her time. Her love. Showing, teaching, living her faith before a moldable young grandson who would grow up to love the Lord and serve Him well as a New Testament pastor and Paul’s right-hand man.
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Nana. Gigi. Mimi. Gogo. Bibi.
Gammy. Memaw. Grandmaw.
Granny. Grandmere. Grandmother.
Whatever name you go by, know this: you have an important role to play…even still. There are things to be taught and caught. Taught by the words we say. Caught by the way we live.
It takes grit because at this point in life you’ve lived through some stuff. Heartaches and headaches. Happiness and hell. You may think you’re too old for this. Gird your loins and pull up your girdle girls, we’ve got some flannel graphs to cut out!
It takes grace because, boy is life different than when we raised our little ones. But the Good News of God’s Son is the Greatest Story Ever Told and that one never gets old.
With no fanfare or fluff, Granny’s are tough.
They may no longer be quick, to grab the lilac stick.
But a greater weapon they say, is to bow our heads and pray.
Like Lois of old, we too can be bold.
Teaching our grandkids the faith, day by day with grit and grace.