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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

My Journey: Grandfather Joys

By John W. Kennedy
June 20, 2010

As a dad in his 50s who has three sons in their 20s, I’ve been feted for being a father for quite some time. It’s with great pleasure that this year my oldest son, Josh, can joyfully celebrate the event, too.

Lael, my first grandchild, is a year and a week old on Father’s Day. Her presence reminds me that I’ve entered a new phase in my life. When a grandchild is born, the experience is much different from being a parent. It’s rewarding and reinvigorating in a different way.

I am awestruck at Lael’s large blue eyes, her soft skin and inquisitive nature. She loves to smile and laugh. Yet, as I study her often-sober face, I wonder what’s going on inside that head of hers. What will she do with her life? What plans does God have for her? Aptly, Lael means “belonging to God” in Hebrew. As Proverbs 17:6 says, “Grandchildren are the crown of the aged” (English Standard Version).

I marvel at how this bundle of energy is such a miraculous genetic mixture of her parents, Josh and Bethany — as well as her four grandparents. I remember her traumatic birth, when a 9-pound, 4-ounce baby couldn’t enter the world without some surgical assistance. Lael hasn’t looked back. She is in the 99th percentile in height and weight, and her parents have a tough time keeping her in clothes before she outgrows them.

As with my own children, I am amazed at how much Lael changes in short spans: how at 6 months she already posed whenever a camera appeared; how she crawled at 7 months; how she responded with high fives at 8 months; how she gave Grandpa kisses at 9 months; how she squealed with delight chasing our dog around the living room at 10 months; how she waved to a crowd at 11 months.

My wife, Patty, and I have high hopes and big dreams for Lael. She’s had a good start in life. Her parents defied the odds of what experts warn as the number one benchmark of marital instability: Josh and Bethany wed as teenagers. However, they spent the next six years working full time and going to college. Then they became elementary schoolteachers. After eight years of marriage, they are providing a stable home for the child they brought into the world.

Being surrounded by family can be an important factor in a child’s development. We live only 15 miles away and generally get to spend time with Lael on Friday or Saturday night, plus see her at church on Sunday. Her other grandparents live only a block away. In fact, Lael’s other grandpa, Richard Hunter, is her daycare provider — at Lael’s house.

What a privilege it is to have the opportunity to teach her, nurture her, mentor her and love her. In this technological age full of evils only a click away, a child really needs to understand that her worth in God’s eyes isn’t determined by how much makeup she puts on or how many clothes she takes off. In part, I want to instill biblical and familial values because my elders never had the privilege of investing in me. Both my grandfathers died before my birth.

Of course one doesn’t cease being a father while doting on his granddaughter. My sons are adults now, but they still seek counsel occasionally for life’s difficulties. While I want them to avoid some of the mistakes I made as a young man, I need to be careful not to be overbearing in giving advice. Younger sons Jesse and Zach must still like their parents. They’ve both moved back home while finishing college.

While Patty and I enjoyed a brief empty nest, there’s nothing wrong with boomerang children. As we play board games in the living room or volleyball in the backyard, I sometimes wonder how the time flew by so quickly. Wasn’t I rocking Josh to sleep just a few months ago?

In any event, I’m looking forward to Lael having siblings and my other two sons marrying and having children of their own. Patty sometimes starts to cry when hugging Lael because she loves her granddaughter so much. If we can show so much affection for a grandchild, how much does God lavish His love upon us?

JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.

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