Generational Influence

One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

Psalm 145:4

Next week, I will head to Finland, my mom’s birthplace and where many of my relatives still reside. This trip comes on the heels of a erratic year during which I bounced back and forth between Texas and Oregon – from delightfully crazy times with an ever growing number of grand kids to slow paced days with my elderly mom, during which I spent significant chunks of time merely helping her find the objects she has misplaced.

 Flipping back and forth between generations causes me to reflect.

I think back to my childhood years when my mom had the energy and wherewithal to care for five children and still have time to tend to her large gardens and orchards. Then I fast-forward and try to imagine what the future will be like for my grandchildren. What kind of parents will they become? How am I influencing them now? And will I still be alive when they have children of their own?

Time is precious and the season during which we influence future generations is short.

 I was 20 years old the last time I traveled to Finland.

Jussi Ojala

Jussi Ojala

I still remember sitting across the table from my grandfather sipping coffee together. He spoke a blessing over me that day and it touched me deeply. His softly spoken prayer formed a connection with me and gave me hope in ways I cannot explain. It just did. I never saw Jussi Ojala again but I never forgot him either. I still picture his crooked smile and twinkling eyes.

As I think about my life since them, I realize that God has been weaving an unbroken thread into the tapestry of my heart all along: an ardent love for family. With this ideal, I actually began writing a book over 40 years ago.   This year, it has finally come to fruition. Only it’s not just my book; rather it’s a joint project with my daughter Erin. What a joy it has been to blend our two perspectives together. It’s been a stretching yet wildly enriching way to connect as mother and daughter.

Two generations writing as one.

Our book titled Free to Parent, will release sometime in July. In some ways, it is my life story with childhood reflections as well as insights from my journey as a parent. But it also includes new and refreshing insights gained from both Erin’s and my current experiences.

 I am blessed to still be working with young parents today.

I think about the commonalities as well as the vast differences that exist between our generations and about the unique challenges that today’s families face. I see the potential pitfalls – especially as it relates to the issues inherent with today’s technologically driven world. But I also believe that this generation of young Christian parents will do a better job of transferring faith to their children than my generation of parents did.

  • We focused on teaching our kids how to act. This generation is more concerned with how to be.
  • We proudly raised our kids on a diet of moralism. They desire to serve their kids the manna of the gospel because they discovered first hand that moralism did not feed their souls or transform their hearts.
  • We focused on performance. They want connection.
  • We focused on obedience. They focus on relationship.

 Writing a book with my daughter has given me a better glimpse into the mindset of her generation of parents.

As a result, I am less judgmental and more inspired. I listen more and lecture less. God is at work deeply in this generation, which is less enamored by Christian “experts” and more desirous of authentic connection, not only with Jesus but with others as well.  While each generation is distinct with different issues to contend with, the gospel stands as the one unifying light and truth in each generation that must be passed forward.  I believe this generation will go down as one to be commended in this regard.

My grandfather raised his family during turbulent times of war and disease. Although I saw him only a few times in my life, he left an impression on my heart as a man who prayed for his children and grandchildren.  I am delighted to be going back to his hometown and I think he would be pleased with the book his granddaughter and great granddaughter have written.

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. I pray that you have a wonderful trip! I can’t wait to read your & Erin’s book.

    Reply
  2. What a beautiful glimpse into your story!

    I just attended a family wedding and was surprised by the “full circle of life” emotions I experienced. It was a part of my family I have only recently had the chance to know deeply because of childhood events that were out of my control. It was sweet to see God’s love through the separation and His beautiful redemption of relationships in spite of time gone by, His faithfulness in the midst of so much pain, and the hope and promise of a legacy I have the chance to leave. I loved being able to look deeply into the eyes of one of my older cousins (we have spent perhaps a total of 10 hours together in our nearly 50 years) and sense a bond of knowing, simply because we are family.

    You bless me as you share your family and story. I look forward to reading the book and plan to cry all the way through!

    Reply
  3. In this age, God is causing many of us to reflect on the generations of influence and prayer. How exciting to support your forthcoming book and its influence on the future generation! I glean great joy from ministering to and guiding young moms and look forward to directing them to this resource. Thank you Ellen!

    Reply

Leave a Reply