In November of 2015, my husband and I became grandparents for the first time. It was everything friends told us it would be! Emotion overwhelmed me as we witnessed our son become a parent. I remember being tired as we awaited the announcement of our granddaughter’s birth through the night, but we were also brimming with excitement (newborn babies have a way of causing that). I also remember feeling as if I had just watched the baton of faith being passed down to the next generation. Similar to a relay race, it felt like my husband and I had run our “spiritual laps” and were now handing off the baton to our son and our daughter-in-law. They would in turn pass their faith on to our precious new granddaughter, Bella Marie.

Almost two and a half years have passed since sweet Bella entered the world, and I feel so differently about the passing of the baton of faith. Although we live apart, we make it a priority to visit as often as we can, which means frequent trips to Tulsa. We can’t get over how much she’s grown, how much she talks, and how impressed she is with herself as she has recently learned to use the “big potty.” Not to mention her complete mastery of large motor skills like climbing, swinging, running, and dancing, to name a few. It is so much fun to visit and celebrate her as she delights in showing us how she has conquered a slide, or how she can dance to the music, or how she can practically read her toddler books to us!

What I underestimated at her birth was our continued spiritual influence in our granddaughter’s life. We are still a vital part of the relay— particularly as we do life together!

Our son and daughter-in-law are doing a beautiful job laying a spiritual foundation for Bella. There is no doubt about that. They have already established rhythms that provide Bella with a faith community and a biblically based identity, and they are faithful to speak a blessing over her nightly. With such intentional parenting you might be asking what our role could possibly be.

As Bella’s grandparents, we have the privilege of not only supporting our son and our daughter-in-law as they continue to walk out their faith, but we also get to reinforce what her parents are doing in the following ways:

When we visit, we attend church as a family. Bella is watching three generations worship God. Occasionally, my father is able to attend, and there is nothing quite like watching four generations worship together!

We listen closely and respectfully each time we visit, and we do our best to work with Bella’s parents as they guide her through each stage of development. If they are working on manners, for example, we are careful to reinforce her “pleases” and “thank yous.” We are very intentional about aligning ourselves with her parents in an effort to do this thing called parenting (or grandparenting in our case) together.

We do not miss an opportunity to bless her on our own or when asked to participate in her bedtime routine. We have been blessed to be a blessing! What a privilege it is to speak goodness over our grandchild, reinforcing what her parents are doing so faithfully.

Paul reminds us in Romans 15:5–6 (The Message) that “our very lives [will sing] in harmony in a stunning anthem to the God and Father of our Master Jesus!” As Bella’s grandparents, we are delighted to work TOGETHER with her parents, still a part of the relay team, as they endeavor to raise this little one who will one day, very soon, sing an anthem with us to our heavenly Father.

Photo courtesy of the Fenton family