The lifestyle changes we have all been forced to adopt for ourselves in these last few weeks have made most of us, in locked down communities, at least in locked down communities, face a new kind of disconnectedness. For example, it no longer matters if we live close to our grandchildren or not. We might as well be living a thousand miles away. Welcome to the world of long distance grandparenting. So, what’s a grandparent to do?
I reached out to some of my team members at CGN and asked them to help with that question. I know some of you are already way ahead of the game. You already figured out creative ways to stay connected. Even so, perhaps you will discover some new ideas from our team to add to your creative toolbox. (By the way, we’d love to hear some of your ideas to share with our readers).
Before I let you in on how to get all these great ideas, I thought it might be valuable to realize how blessed we are to have the technology we have today. Because so many of these ideas involve technology, I thought it might be helpful to provide a brief overview of many of the online tools available to us:
- Email: the dinosaur of instant letter delivery communication in the tech world. Many of your grandchildren do not use this means of communication, but most of their parents still do, so it’s still useful.
- Messenger: This is a Facebook tool that allows you to see instant messages and set up Family Chats for communicating with your families.
- Texting: Most of your grandchildren live in the texting world, so this is a great way to make written connections, as long as you don’t overdo it.
- WhatsApp is a great way to connect for FREE anywhere in the world with both audio and video through a smartphone or tablet. The free service between countries is only available with an internet connection. Within your own country, you can also use your cell phone data services to connect.
- Skype or FaceTime: Most of you may already use these apps to connect with both audio and video. FaceTime can only be used with and between Apple products such as iPhones, iPads and Mac computers.
- Portal: The next level up from Skype and FaceTime is Facebook Portal. You can connect via audio/video with up to seven different locations at once on your Portal unit if the people you are connecting with also have a Portal unit on their end, or if they have Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp on their device. Portal also offers Portal TV which can turn your SmartTV into a large video screen. I would urge caution with the Portal TV because of some security issues, most of which are easily resolved by making sure your camera and audio are turned off when not in use.
Putting It All to Good Use
By God’s grace, we have a bounty of possible communication tools for this time in which we live. We can put these tools to good use if we choose to be intentional. The free download we are offering to you will give you some good ideas for using this technology, and some great ideas for low-tech activities as well.
The kind of intentionality about which I speak is a deliberate choice to invest in the lives of another generation using the tools we have to communicate God’s truth that strengthens, encourages, and offers hope in Christ. Remember, this Coronavirus did not just happen. It is all part of God’s sovereign plan and purposes. He knows what He is doing, and we are to anchor our souls in the knowledge that His purposes are wise, and that He is gracious, compassionate and inviting us to make good use of this time.
Within God’s purposes we know He desires that we will learn to treasure above all things His glorious beauty, grace, goodness and majesty… and to encourage our families to do the same. So, our staying connected is not only good for the souls of our grandchildren and our own children, it is good for our soul as well.
We’re in Good Hands
With that thought, let me leave you with two stanzas of an old 19th century hymn, We Have an Anchor. It has been a great reminder and comfort to me. I hope it will be to you as well.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
Refrain: We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll!
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
It is safely moored, ‘twill [it will] the storms withstand,
For ‘tis well-secured by the Savior’s hand;
And the cables passed from His heart to mine
Can defy that blast, through strength Divine! (Refrain)
(Lyrics by Priscilla Owens; Music by William Kirkpatrick)