Cousins Camp, Scrapbooking and Those Yet Unborn
by Sharon Betters
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.
Today’s devotional is adapted from a blog post I wrote about eight years ago. I love the memories it brings to mind.
"You girls are doing a lot of giggling in here!" Ten-year-old granddaughter Katie and I looked at each other and giggled some more at Chuck's words. Scrapbooking supplies, pictures and albums covered the dining room table. Our goal was to organize pictures from that year’s Cousins Camp.
We started Cousins Camp in 2003 when Chuck and I took our five youngest grandchildren to the beach for a few days – by ourselves. My friend Sherry Bitler, our Children’s Ministry Director at the time had filled a crate with lots of ideas to help me reach my goal of creating a mini Vacation Bible School for our two three-year-olds, one five-year-old, one six-year-old and one seven-year-old grands. Our first morning five sets of eyes eagerly watched as I described how we would have early morning devotions on the beach, learn songs and Scriptures and collect seashells for craft projects. My first clue that my plan might not work was when Markie asked, “But Grammy, when can we go swimming?”
Chuck laughed and said, “Ok, Grammy, we’re at the beach – you’re making this too hard. Remember one of our goals is to encourage our grandchildren to be good friends. Focus on that goal and enjoying the kids.”
I slathered sunscreen on five little bodies, gathered up tons of beach paraphernalia and gratefully settled into a beach chair to watch five excited littles make memories building sandcastles and looking for crabs.
For several years at Cousins Camp, the older girls spent most of the week writing a play scriptand accompanying songs for their annual performance. Along with make shift props, they created personal invitations for each person in the house. Katie and I laughed as we remembered how they forced Benjamin to be the prince and kiss Mollie. As the grandchildren have aged, we have changed our approach to Cousins Camp, always keeping in mind our original goal of encouraging strong family connections between the grands and us. We’ve moved from original plays, crafts and pirate parties to lots of beach time. We have enjoyed quiet weeks in the Poconos, fishing in the pond, exploring the woods all the while watching for bears. Poconos memories include white water rafting and bike riding for miles down the Lehigh Gorge Trail along the Lehigh River. One of my favorite blessings of Cousins Camp every year is watching the bigs (older grands) interact with the middles and the littles.
Other grandmothers have told me that as their grandchildren grow older, it is harder to connect with them. The special relationships they enjoyed when the children were more dependent often unraveled as the kids experienced more of life through school, sports, and social activities. I’m learning I must be intentional in the way I pursue our older grandchildren.
I was a new grandmother when I eavesdropped on several grandmothers in Florida. They described their dread of teenage grandchildren coming to visit. According to these older women, the kids were disrespectful, ungrateful and lazy. They were users, only interested in visiting grandparents because it meant a trip to Florida. They never communicated with their grandparents otherwise. These grandmothers were glad that because they lived so far away, they didn't have to attend all the sports and school activities, concerts, performances. I had several grandchildren when I heard this conversation. I knew I did not want to be like these women when I grew up.
Compare this pool-side conversation to the comments of a fellow grandmother as we talked about staying connected to teenage grandchildren. She described the difficulty of keeping up the intimacy when the kids' lives are so busy. Then she said, "So, I try to think of ways to spend time with my grandkids that appeal to where they are. I just had lunch with my granddaughter and then treated both of us to a pedicure." Instead of seeing this gift as a bribe, this wise grandmother knows she is investing in a lifelong friendship.
My worldview demands a different pathway than the poolside grandmoms chose. And though mine requires thinking, planning and some sacrifice, the rewards are priceless. Just this morning as I considered the many tasks waiting for me and then anticipated Katie's visit and prayed for our time together, I read, "Future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, for he has done it." I knew God was reminding me that the most important and precious "task" for that day was my time with Katie. Katie might think we were just scrapbooking, but someday she will understand the special moments with Grammy helped lock into her heart the power of faith, family, and legacy.
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
Ten-year-old Katie doesn’t understand now that the gift of Cousins Camp is not given just because we all love a week away. She doesn't know that because of these special family times, we hope Katie and all the cousins will cherish lifelong friendships with one another. We also hope their family traditions included extended family gatherings for their children, our great-grandchildren, those yet unborn, because they cherish the memories of not only Cousins Camp, but also Sunday spaghetti dinners and sleepovers at Grammy and Grandad's, shopping trips, baking Syrian bread, making grape leaves, setting the table for holidays, picking tomatoes and snuggling as many cousins as possible on Grammy's lap for a story or watching a movie.
Someday they might realize that while they were spending time with Grammy and Grandad, God was helping shape their worldview and planting seeds of wisdom that fell from the fruit of their grandparents’ life journey into their hearts. And slowly but surely they will realize that one of the underlying purposes for all of these special times was to create a safe place for our treasured grandchildren to see Jesus and experience Jesus.
What’s your Grammy story? How do you stay connected to your older grandkids? How are you intentional about creating opportunities to share your own faith journey in a way that declares the faithfulness of Jesus’s love and presence?
Update from Sharon: Katie is now twenty-one and planning her wedding as is her cousin, Danielle. I suspect we’ll share lots of giggles along with a few tears as they pick out wedding gowns and make plans for these life-changing events. I’m so grateful they include me in all the excitement and planning!
Sharon W. Betters is author of Treasures of Encouragement, Treasures in Darkness and co-author of Treasures of Faith. She is Director of Resource Development and co-founder of MARKINC.org, a non profit organization that offers help and hope to hurting people. Sharon enjoys quality time with her husband, children and fourteen grandchildren.
Subscribe to Daily Treasure and have devotionals like this one delivered to your inbox.