- It was the first-ever conference focused upon Intentional Christian Grandparenting.
- It was the first-ever opportunity for grandparents from across the country (and even from a couple other countries) to gather to be encouraged and equipped to pass on a heritage of faith to their grandchildren.
- It was the first-ever time resource providers gathered to showcase the resources they offered for grandparents. (And there was an exhibit hall filled with resource providers and resources!)
- It was the first-ever time when a large slate of general session speakers and breakout speakers provided time for grandparents to be encouraged and challenged as they learned to pass on a heritage of faith to their grandchildren.
One more of these "firsts" was experienced on Tuesday night when Chuck Swindoll took the stage to speak. Yes, he has been the speaker many, many times before at conferences across the country for sure, but this time he did something he has never done before. He invited his wife and three of his grandchildren to join him on the stage to speak to us about who he and his wife are as grandparents, how they are passing on their faith, what they are doing and why.
First of all Chuck spoke about who they are. He shared how when he first met Cynthia, he waited a week to ask her to marry him! He shared about the beginning of their marriage and the addition of children to their family. He had us all laughing at his stories and then Cynthia took the podium to share how they passed faith to their children and grandchildren.
She shared Micah 6:8 and said they stressed how important it is to do what is right - to pass on a legacy of faith and how they want their grandchildren to learn life is an adventure with God!
Then their granddaughter Heather shared with us how she knows her grandparents love her, no matter what. She was followed by Ashley who left everyone crying as she shared how Bubba (her grandpa Chuck Swindoll) and her grandma truly love her unconditionally (even when she moved in with bunnies who did not smell so great!). Austin was the last grandchild who shared, leaving us all feeling so blessed to have had the opportunity to hear from these grandchildren how their grandparents made, and continue to make, such an impact in their lives! (No one in the audience had dry eyes; including Chuck and Cynthia!)
Chuck returned to the podium to share why he treasures his relationship with his grandchildren - and why we can treasure our relationships with our grandchildren as well.
He started by sharing four benefits of growing older -
- We see better - we have a perspective which comes from years of living.
- We have lived long enough to replace knowledge with wisdom.
- We are not afraid of anyone.
- We are better "crap" detectors.
Then he shared three wonderful reasons grandchildren are valuable -
- They love us unconditionally - and are so easy to love!
- They remember what is important.
- They provide opportunities for us to tell them what great parents they have and why.
Chuck shared two powerful memories grandchildren will cling to -
- The memory of our touch on their lives - were we fun to be with?
- The memory of our faithfulness to God - we can tell them it was worth it all!
And he wrapped up the evening by sharing with us one memorable piece of advice . . .
- We need to think seriously about our grandparenting legacy. What impact will we have and leave on our grandchildren?
It was a not-to-be-forgotten evening and I'm certain every grandparent who was there is so thankful they were able to experience this "first-ever" opportunity to hear from Chuck, Cynthia and their grandchildren. I know I will not forget what they said!