In my last post I talked about “things I wonder about” when I wake in the middle of the night. One of the things mentioned was, “how can I encourage our grandkids as they begin their adult lives?” Since three of those grandkids belong to Janelle, she suggested six ways grandpa can encourage his grandkids. What she said touched my heart a bit and produced some more thinking – some in the middle of the night, some while working in the garden and some while just relaxing on the deck or in my recliner.

Encouraging is not just trying to persuade them to do the right thing. Don’t text while you are driving or be careful about the kind of people you hang out with or smoking and drugs are bad for you. Encouraging is not trying to get them to follow my list of do’s and don’ts or even to wear my faith. Encouraging is much grander than that. It has to do with helping them appreciate their potential and with that potential make a contribution to the space they live in right now. It has to do with helping them to understand that if they make a mistake they can learn from it and they are still unconditionally loved and that they have a responsibility to develop and practice their own faith.

Janelle made some great suggestions but it would be wrong for me to say I will immediately put all of them into practice because I wouldn’t be able to do so. I do want to be an encouraging person though, because people like to hang out with an encourager. So I decided to take a risk and share with you what I will do.

First of all, I want to continue doing things we are already doing. When we have opportunity, we watch our grandkids participate in their activities. We like for them to spend time with us in our home or to visit in their homes. Shirley is great at texting encouraging messages and writing notes on email or facebook. I do pray for them – sometimes as a group and sometimes individually.

Now for the risk taking. I usually get up earlier than Shirley, put on the coffee and read the paper. That is enjoyable but not particularly productive, so I am committing to changing my routine a bit. When I get up I will make the coffee and then spend time reflecting on them and their unique personalities, praying for them and planning specific things I can do to encourage them. I will share my plans with our grandkids, ask for their suggestions and work with Shirley to ensure we do what we can to encourage them. I will also be happy for you to hold me accountable and if you are grandparents, share things you are doing to be an encouragement to your grandchildren.