WMU Blog

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

I noticed a few weeks ago in Mission Friends that he started calling his grandfather “Daddy.” For circumstances far beyond his control, C is being raised by his grandparents. They faithfully bring him to Mission Friends every week, and he has always called his grandparents Mawmaw and Pawpaw. When we talk about mommys and daddys in Mission Friends, we try to refer to Mawmaw and Pawpaw also. A red flag went up in my mind when I heard C calling him Daddy. I imagine there is some confusion on his part when he knows that other preschoolers have a mommy and daddy.

In more and more families, grandparents are stepping up to the plate to care for their grandchildren. According to the US Census Bureau, “In 1970, about 3 percent of children lived in grandparent-maintained households; about twice that many (6 percent) lived in grandparent-maintained households in 2012.”1 In some of these homes the parents are also present, but in many the grandparents have sole responsibility for the care of their grandchildren.

In more and more families, grandparents are stepping up to the plate to care for their grandchildren.

No Turning Back

Both Feet In Book Cover

In his book Both Feet In, retired missionary Dr. Bud Fray references an old African proverb that says: “Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet.” It’s like testing the temperature of the pool water before you jump in; we stick our toe in first and if it’s too cold we have the option of pulling back. Once we jump in with both feet we are committed . . . and we better know how to swim!

After serving 28 years among the people of Zimbabwe and South Africa, Bud and his wife, Jane, know firsthand what the African people mean by this proverb. The African peoples’ life experiences taught them to tread cautiously before committing to something. They worshipped many different gods and held many beliefs that were contrary to the gospel. So when confronted with the truths of the Bible, they hesitated to commit to the one true God of Scripture. Carefully and wisely, missionaries like Bud taught them to weigh all the consequences and then, when they were ready and totally committed to Jesus’ teaching, put both feet in, knowing there is no turning back.

Are You Willing to Go the Distance?

Coats Family

“Jesus can do more in a moment than we can do in an entire lifetime, but we have to give Him those moments. We have to make up in our minds that despite the long road ahead, we’re going to travel that distance because it means getting to Jesus in the end.” —Patrick Coats

Throughout the month of January, we are learning how Patrick and Archalena Coats have been willing to go the distance for the Lord in answering His call to plant a church in Miami. The Preschool Resource Team at National WMU thanks you, Mission Friends leaders, for being willing to go the distance for the Lord in answering His call to teach the youngest among us about carrying His gospel to the nations.

We pray that this devotion, written by Mr. Coats will both challenge you and encourage you to go the distance as we begin a new year.

The Coats family is willing to go the distance for Jesus Christ.

Is It Time to Get Off the Merry-Go-Round?

As a leader, are you at a place where you feel as if you’ve used up everything in you? You’re on a merry-go-round of life. When do you say, “It’s time to get off the merry-go-round—time to renew myself”? I surprised myself this past year when I said yes to another opportunity to lead but found that God blessed and renewed me in the process.

I had the opportunity to lead and participate in a retreat. There were women in our church who would never go away for a retreat so we decided to do it at the church. I was amazed at how many signed up.

From the moment I started planning, I was on the path to renewal. I knew God was “tendering” my own heart and life. I used Psalm 139 as my focus. I read that chapter often as I prepared. God spoke through each verse specifically to me.

When the retreat date arrived, I was ready. I used activities and times of prayer to help our women grow closer. During every session, I was amazed as I watched our women truly connect with God and each other, and I could feel His presence with me.

Resolutions that Really Matter

This year, I will:

  • Be healthier
  • Spend less, save more
  • Get organized
  • Read 12 new books
  • Learn to knit
  • Conquer a marathon…okay, maybe just a half-marathon

Did you make any resolutions this year? Are you part of the 45% of Americans that make New Year’s resolutions? Maybe your list looks a little like mine.

Did you know that most resolutions are broken within several months? In fact, only 8% of people who make resolutions successfully achieve them.

Despite the odds, resolutions are good. People who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who don’t make resolutions.

However, when I look at my me-centered list, I keep thinking about one of my favorite Bible verses, Proverbs 16:9. “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (NKJV).

So this year, I am adding some resolutions to my list that really matter—eternally—for God’s kingdom:

Wrap-Around Care

Wrap-around care. I was struck by this phrase that was new to me. I learned of the phrase in the article, “Contagious Love for One More Child,” 1 in Sharing, the newsletter for Florida Baptist Children’s Homes. The article focused on a church whose members have become invested in caring for vulnerable children by becoming foster families, adoptive families, or wrap-around families. The article speaks of wrap-around care as offering resources or support to adoptive and foster parents. Wrap-around care is a way of showing these families they are not alone by giving them encouragement and assistance in various ways.

As a Mission Friends teacher, you may have families in your church who are foster parents or adoptive families. Though not all children in foster or adoptive care have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), all of these children have gone through some type of trauma. I like the idea of giving wrap-around care to these foster and adoptive families so they can concentrate on providing for the emotional and physical needs of the child.

What are some ways of providing wrap-around care to these families?

A Vision? A Vision!

My husband and I have been blessed with 5 grandchildren who range in age from 5 to 13. When each child was still in the womb, my vision was for him or her to be born with a healthy little body. Now that our grandchildren are getting older, my vision is changing.

For 3 of them, my vision is that they will continue to pursue the dreams the Lord has begun to put in their hearts and live for Him. My role is to love and encourage them as well as support the spiritual foundation their parents provide.

For 2 of them, my vision is that they will make it through a hard family situation with as little damage to their tender hearts as possible. My role is to love them and be a safe haven for them. And I help their mother build a spiritual base from which they can come to know the Lord.

We can have a vision for family members, for ourselves, for our churches. Listen, ponder, and seek the Lord and He will give you a vision and reveal your role in making that vision a reality. 

Sharon R. Neff lives in Arcola, Mississippi, and never had a vision that she would be a pastor’s wife.

Next Generation Vision

As a parent, I’ve always strived to teach my children about missions and involve them in mission action whenever possible. My children are now 16 and 13 and grew up in Girls in Action and Royal Ambassadors. They know what it means to be on mission.

My vision for them is to continue being on mission every day of their lives. There are many opportunities with our church and their school to continue to develop this mind-set.

I plan to encourage them to be involved in missions by having them participate with me, helping them find ways they can do missions, and educating them about current events so they can brainstorm ways they can be on mission.

It’s up to us to cultivate a vision to encourage and teach the next generation to live a missions lifestyle that honors God.

Jennifer Booth writes from her home in Little Rock, Arkansas. Connect with her on her blog at JenniferBooth.com.

Vision Casting

Often on the missions field we talk about "vision casting.” Having a vision for what you are doing is important because it causes you to focus on the long term goal and what you can do currently to help achieve it.

Through the Lord's grace, I am "mommy" to two funny and beautiful gals. Long before they were born, I was praying for them and asking the Lord for wisdom in parenting and raising the ones He was entrusting us with. Little did I know then, that I would be praying that more and more as I try to live out this calling of motherhood.

Now, I'm not sure I've ever called it "vision casting" but if you ask me what my vision is for them, I know what it is. My vision is that they would walk intimately with the Father, that they have joy that is unspeakable and peace that passes all understanding. I pray for them to know His salvation the very first time His Spirit calls them to Himself and that we, as parents, have given them the knowledge of who He is and the gift that He has given.

Becoming an Effective myMISSION Leader

Just because someone has been a leader for a long time doesn’t mean she has arrived. All leaders can learn, grow, and develop. Leadership training is offered through state WMUs. Classes are now provided through Develop, WMU’s online, on-demand leadership training. We want you to be an effective Christian leader through your leadership role with myMISSION.

Being effective means producing the desired results. As a myMISSION leader, you want your group to learn more about missions, give to missions, and do missions. It is the leader’s responsibility to continually and clearly keep this vision at the forefront.

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