HOW many of you know – or are – grandparents who dote on their grandchildren? They spoil the kiddos for the weekend then give them back to Mom and Dad, fat and happy on Nanna’s and Grandaddy’s love and cookies. That’s the ideal picture, right?
This sweet scenario isn’t always the case these days.
TODAY, I have the pleasure of interviewing an author who brings encouragement and practical help to this particular group of embattled spirits (believers eager to be equipped by God and willing to fight spiritual battles for those they love.)
BEFORE I chat with Dianne. E. Butts, here’s the synopsis:
Grandparenting Through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ contains twenty true stories about long-distance grandparenting, non-traditional or blended families, the obstacle of sharing Christ with the grandkids when their parents are not walking with God, partnering with parents and more.
For every grandparent who longs to share their faith in Jesus Christ but needs inspiration for the “how-to,” ideas, suggestions, or to just know they are not the only one who struggles with challenges.
J.A. – I can think of a few friends who could use this book.
J.A. – First, tell us briefly about yourself.
Dianne – I’ve been writing for more than 20 years, with over 300 magazine articles published, mostly in Christian publications. I’m now swerving into books, which I’ve always wanted to write. In my spare time (ha ha ha), I’ve started doing some screenwriting. I was accepted to Act One Program in 2010, which trains Christians to write for Hollywood. This past Monday, I learned that a screenplay I wrote is a semifinalist in the Kairos Prize for Spiritually Uplifting Screenplays, which I am tremendously excited about! Grandparenting Through Obstacles ( GTO) is my fourth book and just won “2012 Book of the Year” at The Book Club Network
J.A. – Very impressive! Sounds like writing is your passion. What inspired you to write GTO?
Dianne – Actually GTO was my co-author Renee’s idea. She had noticed many of her friends were Christian grandparents facing tremendous challenges that even a generation ago weren’t there. She went looking and realized there were very few resources for these people. She called me and told me about her idea and asked if I wanted to do a book with her. My first comment was, “Renee, neither of us are grandparents!” Renee at least has children; I don’t. But we knew we could help those who are experts—meaning grandparents—tell their stories. There is help and power in true stories. So we put the word out and ask grandparents to send their stories. We wanted stories from those who were facing challenges to sharing their Christian faith with their grandchildren and from those who’d found a way to make a difference and were seeing fruit from those efforts. I was amazed at the stories that came in — some hard stories, some inspiring, and others heart-warming. We built each of the 20 chapters around one story.
J.A. – So GTO is essentially a book from grandparents to grandparents. I’m liking this. Now I’m thinking about friends who could benefit from your book. How is GTO different from the typical self-help books on the shelf?
Dianne – GTO offers more than just fun things to do with your grandkids. There are some really hard situations portrayed in the book, including families dealing with addiction, mental illness, and a parent in prison. Inspiration and help are built into the stories. We added material to each chapter, including:
• Ideas, resources, and quotes
• “Points to Ponder” with up to five application questions
• “Steps to Take”
• “Scriptures to Study”
• “One Way to Pray”
• And a “Grandparents in the Bible” sidebar
The “Grandparents in the Bible” short sections in every chapter trace the bloodline of Jesus from Abraham through the Kings. Some kings were godly, others were evil. You’d think evil kings would produce evil children/grandchildren and godly ones would produce godly children/grandchildren, but it didn’t always work that way. That should be both a warning and an encouragement to grandparents, I think.
J.A. – Good insight. How have the stories in this book changed YOUR life?
Dianne – I’ve been amazed at not only the challenges and hardships some of these grandparents are facing, but at their perseverance in love and the various and diverse ways they’ve been inspired to reach their grandchildren for Christ. They’ve thought of doing things I never thought of! One missionary grandparent in South America started a blog with her grandkids in the United States so they could not only talk with each other regularly but include others in the conversations about Jesus. Other grandparents created entire Christian camp experiences for when their grandkids came for a week in the summer. It’s amazing the ideas they’ve come up with and what they’ve accomplished. I’ve been inspired by their selfless actions. I’ve enjoyed working with every one of them. And I’ve been humbled to work with them in a way that will surely change lives and change the eternity of some. Heaven will be different because of the stories and materials shared in this book, and that’s a life-changer for me right there.
J.A. – Amen. Okay, I’ve gotta throw this question in. What fun or crazy stuff you do when you’re not writing?
Dianne- I love riding my motorcycle with my husband, Hal. We’re members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association and we use our motorcycles as conversation-starters so we can tell others we meet on the highways and byways about Jesus. We also attend biker rallies and work them, volunteering at the registration tables, security at the gates, picking up trash—wherever needed. So even riding bikes is ministry for us. (We’re a mixed marriage: I ride a Kawasaki. He rides the Harley.) I also like gardening and photography, but I have precious little time for that because I’m so busy with the writing right now. I have several more books coming out with Pix-N-Pens Publishing and Write Integrity Press.
J.A. – I’m trying to picture you on a Kawasaki. LOL. Okay, here’s an adapted excerpt from GTO:
IN GRANDPARENTING through Obstacles: Overcoming Family Challenges to Reach Your Grandchildren for Christ, Susan Lawrence, in her story, “Jesus House,” tells how she struggled when her adopted daughter announced she was pregnant. Both her daughter, Teresa, and the baby’s father, Andy, were unemployed, neither had high school diplomas, and both struggled with mental health issues, including bipolar disorder and depression. How could they raise a child? Susan promised to help Teresa. After Cadence was born, Teresa and Andy brought her to church and dedicated her to the Lord. Susan prayed, “Lord, help me to do my part to train Cadence to grow in to a woman of faith.”
SUSAN and her husband did their best
to support Teresa and Andy without enabling,
but things were rocky.
Then came a grandson, Michail.
Later that year, Teresa and Andy married,
but parenting two toddlers
was more than Teresa could manage
and she left, not even leaving a note,
a pattern she’d developed as a teenager.
SUSAN and her husband couldn’t raise the children even if Andy would have relinquished them, which he did not. But they poured love into their lives every chance they got. Susan took Cadence to the children’s program at church when she was four. When they’d pull into the church parking lot, Cadence would sigh, “We’re home.” Susan taught her songs she’d learned at Sunday school. Of course Susan prayed over and for Cadence and Michail.
ONE evening after praying before the meal,
Cadence asked, “Is this a Jesus house??
“Yes, Cadence,” Susan answered. “Because we love Jesus and try to live for Him.”
Cadence said, “I always wanted to live in a Jesus house.”
Susan knew she wasn’t saying she wanted to live with her
—she loved her daddy dearly.
Susan responded, “You do live in a Jesus house!
Wherever you are, Jesus is with you.”
SUSAN writes, “I can’t rescue Cadence and Mikail from poverty…But I can be the grandma who introduces them to Jesus, so they can live forever in a ‘Jesus house.’”
No matter what the challenges we or our children or grandchildren face, Jesus is bigger and stronger. With prayer and training to know Him, there isn’t a situation He can’t carry them through.
J.A. – Susan sounds like a true embattled spirit. Thank you for taking with me today, Dianne.
HOW can people contact you and where can they buy GTO?