The Blessings of Presence

Written by Gary Cardinal, Legacy Coalition Ambassador

Recently, as I finished my Old Testament reading in Genesis 30 and 31, the verse in 30:13 caught my attention because my youngest grandson is named Asher. The scripture writes that Leah responded, “What joy is mine!” Then at the end of the chapter, the footnotes stated “Asher means happy!”

Well, this morning I woke up thinking about this young boy Asher in my family. What a joy it has been watching him grow up and how happy he has made his old Grandapa seeing him mature as a young man.

Simple Moments

I’d like to share a little detail about one simple conversation I had with Asher one day in the spring of his sixth-grade year. Asher is tall and thin, one of those boys that is kind of all legs! After finishing his basketball season, he decided he wanted to join the track team. We all kind of wondered why, but it just seemed to be a way to stay connected to his buddies and he just kind of liked to run.

So Grandma and Grandpa never missed a track event, but it was quite interesting because Asher didn’t seem to have any clue what track was all about. He was just content running around smiling and having fun, yet winning a race didn’t seem to cross his mind. So, after watching this go on for about a half dozen events, while we were driving to his event that day, old Grandpa started thinking about what I could say to him. I knew I would see him because he was always looking for us to show up. Asher would come running and give us a big hug. He truly embodied his name’s Scriptural meaning of joy and happiness.

When we arrived, as always, he came running to greet us. We got our big hugs, and as he was ready to take off, I grabbed his arm and said “Asher, what are you thinking about when you are running?” He looked at me kind of strangely and said while shrugging his shoulders “Nothing I guess!” It didn’t surprise me, but my response was simple; “Today when you get the baton in your race why don’t you think about this, try as hard as you can to pass the first guy you see running ahead of you, then the next one, the next, and just keep going as fast as you can to the finish!” He smiled and walked away saying, “OK!”

Grandma was standing close by and looked at me wondering what that was all about. Being an athlete growing up and a college coach for 10 years, I was just planting a seed in his mind; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Well long story short, Asher ran the best three races that day that he had ever run, and his track experience changed that day. As a 7th grader, his relay teams went to State and returned to State the following season for his 8th-grade year! We can hardly wait to see how he starts his High School track career.

I share this because we never know how a simple little comment or challenge may change one of our grandchildren’s lives, but this we do know – GOD has left us here for a reason to share joy and happiness with them as long as we possibly can!

Big Changes

This has been one of the great privileges that Marcella and I have been able to enjoy through our involvement with the Legacy Coalition ministry. Our involvement started six years ago when some good friends, Tom and Eileen Johnson from MN, encouraged us to come out and hear Larry Fowler speak at a conference in the Quad Cities. Well, we immediately knew that this ministry was a fit for where we were in life with 5 precious young grandchildren that we wanted to share Christ with. What we didn’t know was just how quickly God would move in our hearts to make a physical move.

Six months after hearing Larry speak and making a commitment to get involved with Legacy Coalition, we were driving downstate to see my mother in a nursing home. Marcella, out of nowhere, stated that she made an appointment to check on a place for Amy. I looked at her puzzled then asked what caused her to do that. Marcella responded clearly, that she felt God was telling her to be more open about moving closer to our grandchildren. You could have knocked me over with a stick!

We had talked for several years about moving back closer to family, but it just didn’t seem like it would ever be a reality because our daughter Amy had been living in a special needs facility for 25 years in the Chicago suburbs. It just didn’t ever seem practical that we could move her.

Well, we can never underestimate God’s ability to move and open doors.
We had that one meeting with the organization in Charleston, IL, and within 60 days things were changing. On Nov 8th, 2018 we moved to Mattoon, IL. God has allowed us the privilege of watching our three grandchildren grow up here in IL.

Claire, our granddaughter, is now a sophomore in college and finishing her nursing degree, Brock is a 17-year-old junior in high school, and the young man Asher whom I started this story about is a 14-year-old freshman in high school.

Conclusion

The moral of this story is quite simple: when you choose to put your life in God’s hands you never quite know how things might change, but you can count on one thing for certain, His plans are always greater than our plans!

Be blessed good friends and spend every moment you can with those you love! We have been given a special biblical privilege in life to try and make a difference and to share with others the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Editor’s Note: You may also be looking for ideas to connect with your grandchildren who live at a distance from you, check out our book Long Distance Grandparenting by Wayne Rice. Consider gathering grandparents in your church together to read and discuss this book. It is full of information and practical ideas!

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