This post was written by Debbie Nauman. Debbie is Steph's mom and is a Regional Area Strategist-volunteer for Operation Christmas Child.
I never really thought about being a grandparent, but in five quick years all of a sudden I was Grandma to eight! I love it! Not for some of the typical reasons you hear: “You can spoil them, and then send them home” or “So much pleasure without the responsibility.” I love being a Grandma because I know that God has me in this role for a purpose.
Yes, there’s lots of fun with games, parks, and Grandma snack plates and crafts, but I want to be an influencer in my grandchildren’s spiritual life. I want my grandchildren to know that I love Jesus, I sing praises to Him, read about Him, and pray to Him.
When my daughter, Steph Thurling, started Raising Prayerful Kids I became more convicted that God wants me to be a part of my grandchildren’s spiritual growth and it has reminded me that it’s my responsibility to not only pray for my grandchildren but to have them pray with me, and for me.
I serve with Operation Christmas Child and have just returned from a Vision Trip to Namibia where I was able to observe children receiving shoebox gifts. I had high expectations and goals for what I would bring back to my volunteer role after experiencing this trip. I had a list of specific prayer requests that I sent to friends and family, but I knew I needed my grandchildren involved.
So, I did what Grandma Debbie Kay does best: I got ready to have craft time. I got the grandchildren together and told them where I was going and what I would get to see and do. We talked about the shoeboxes that they had packed, and looked at photos of children with boxes from Namibia. My grandkids have been packing shoeboxes for most of their lives so they know all about the process and what they are for. I told them that I would need a lot of people praying for me and asked if they would be my prayer partners.
We held hands and prayed:
Dear Jesus, We love you, and Grandma loves you, and shoeboxes. On her trip let her be healthy and safe, to make new friends, to learn more about Operation Christmas Child, and to shine for you. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I told them the most important thing was that I would shine for Jesus and glorify Him. I would like them to pray for me every day I was gone that I would See like Jesus, Hear like Jesus, Think like Jesus and Be like Jesus.
That’s a lot to remember so I suggested we make a prayer bracelet that they could wear to help them remember. Who doesn’t like picking your favorite color of elastic (some sparkly) and four fun beads to remember the prayer?! Bonus was picking another bead for God to surprise Grandma.
I told them that while Grandma was gone they could wear this bracelet and each bead would help them remember what I wanted them to pray for me:
Bead 1: See like Jesus
Bead 2: Hear like Jesus
Bead 3. Think like Jesus
Bead 4: Be like Jesus
Bead 5: Surprise Grandma!
My trip was wonderful. Travel went smoothly, I remained healthy, had an amazing team of fellow volunteers to experience the outreaches together. I saw churches being planted, children experiencing joy, hearing the Gospel message, and becoming disciples. And, God surprised me and gave me some simple desires of my heart on the trip: seeing his beautiful creation through the animals, mountains, and African sunshine and He gripped my heart with the conviction that everyone needs a simple, powerful, Gospel message.