Spiritually Speaking

Question: We have two beautiful grandchildren, a boy, 8, and a girl, 6. Our concern is their parents don’t take them to church. From the time our daughter was a baby we took her to church. Her husband’s family didn’t go to church. We believe a spiritual education is part of life and we don’t know what to do without offending our daughter or son-in-law.

When the kids stay with us, which is often, we read the kid’s Bible to them and other spiritually inspiring stories. When they are with us on Sundays, we take them to our church and they go to Sunday school. Our daughter and her hubby are okay that we do this. We still would like to have the kids have a more consistent religious education.

Is there anything more we should be doing?

~Grandparents in a Quandary


Dear Grandparents in a Quandary,

Your concern is understandable; however, what you’re doing is commendable even though your grandchildren do not have what you think should be a more consistent religious education. And, you’re fortunate that there are no disagreements about the many things you’re doing for them.

Attending church weekly with my family when our children were young was an important part of our lives. I’m thinking you could make Sunday a family affair and ask your daughter and son-in-law to attend church with you. After the service have a special meal together, either at a restaurant or take turns having lunch in one of your homes. You can also provide spiritual books for the children to read during the week. A couple of my favorites are “Kindness is My Super Power” by Alicia Ortego and “When God Made You” by Matthew Paul Turner.

Another suggestion is to send the children to church camps that are mostly held during the summer and in the winter when school breaks for the holidays. For many years, I facilitated camps and gatherings for children of all ages. What I happily discovered is that the kids forged relationships that lasted for years and, even though they were from all over the country and sometimes even other countries, they stayed in touch over the years. These relationships serve to remind children of their spiritual roots.

My final suggestion to you is please do not ruminate about what more you could possibly be doing when you’re already doing so much!

Rev. Dr. Beverly Craig


Hello, Grandparents in a Quandary,

First of all, thank you for the wonderful care and love you have for your grandchildren and your children. It is often difficult for those who have spent much of their lives in a faith community to see their children on a different path. The stories of the Bible and the lessons they teach are a wonderful way for children to learn how to live in the midst of a community, whether one of faith or a secular one. The lessons remind us of how we are to love one another and support the pursuit of a life filled with grace and compassion. It is a wonderful opportunity to share your love of worship and the church community with your grandchildren, and I am sure it is difficult when it seems your children are not interested in your beloved church. It does seem, however, that your daughter and son-in-law have set other priorities that leaves out a Sunday morning time of worship and Sunday school for the children. My advice is to inquire what they believe are the important things to teach their children. I would guess they already know what your thoughts are, but maybe see what it is that they may be involved in that may create a schedule conflict with Sunday morning. And maybe ask them about what their thoughts are about church. It may be that they have been invited into another community that is able to explore religious truths.

It all comes down to having a conversation. It is not to accuse or blame or cajole, but rather to listen to each other and strengthen the relationship you have that shows the love of God in your care for one another. Listen. Care. Love.


Pastor Scott Peterson


Question: A good friend and I go to dinner once a week. She’s the one who really wants to go and always reminds me. I enjoy being with her except for one thing – she frequently takes out her cellphone and checks for messages. To me this is rude, but I don’t know what to say or how to say it. I have my phone as well and keep it turned off during dinner. I have other friends who have said they have the same problem.

Do you have any ideas about having a conversation with my friend without burning bridges? ~ A Little Irritated


Dear A Little Irritated,

This is not an uncommon situation in today’s world. And I can appreciate your feelings because I have been on both sides of the coin.

First off, consider this a great opportunity for you to deepen your relationship with your friend. True friends can openly and honestly discuss problems with each other. Maybe she doesn’t realize how much her phone habit bothers you. Why don’t you write out a possible conversation with her, telling her how much you value your time together and her being with her phone takes valuable time away from the two of you sharing your lives. That might give her reevaluation of the effect her being a “slave” to her phone has on you. Practicing your thoughts by writing them gives you a chance to be prepared when you do meet in person.

You also could suggest a timeout from the phone while you are together … or make it a game of sorts to turn the phone off … a light-hearted approach.

If you keep your language away from attacking, she won’t be defensive. Visualize it as a win-win where it is God talking to God with love, compassion and understanding. I’m betting you will have an enjoyable, fun, loving lunch and be friends for a long time.


Best wishes,

Laney Clevenger White, RScP Emeritus


Dear A Little Irritated,

I appreciate you reaching out for advice! Often it is the pesky little pebbles in relationships compounded over time that create unmet expectations and gaps in the area of trust and safety. So, I’m pleased that you care enough for the friendship to want to do something about it early on – but the answer might be less about what to do and more about how to do it in my opinion.

Relationships are easy to start but a whole lot harder to maintain and grow! Fostering authentic relationships where honesty and trust are the currency require three things: the first requires safety; the second requires continually offering the benefit of the doubt; the third is much more challenging as it requires the discipline to resist offense. Why? Because offense is like trying to kill a rat with rat poison, but you’re the one taking the poison – metaphorically speaking! Plus, who enjoys confronting an individual who gets offended quickly? No one, right? Before addressing what may seem like the elephant in the room – at least for you – I would start with heart. Here’s what I mean: start with heart is another way to examine your motive, attitude and offense barometer prior to addressing something about the other. Start with heart is a great way to ensure that you act in what’s in the best interest of the other and the relationship, no matter how big or small the error. It also helps clarify what your “bull’s eye” or end goal is. Is it to address and correct rude behavior? Or is it to create better habits to flourish your friendship? What’s your bull’s eye?

Now on to a practical way of addressing the issue after you’ve started with heart and have checked your bull’s eye: You can nonchalantly open the conversation during a time when her phone isn’t pulled out by sharing with her an idea you have for maximizing each other’s time together by being more present in the moment. That way the burden moves from “you” to “we,” moving away from singling out her bad habit while inviting the both of you into a new healthy relational habit together. Again, “we” is always less threatening than “you.” You can even infuse some cheeky lighthearted humor by saying, “The first one to pull their phone pays for the bill.”

Truth-be-told, busyness and hurriedness are the curses of our age, often leading toward superficialities in our relationships and everything else we value.

I pray that your next lunch date is the one to set your friendship on a healthy path towards presence, intentionality and openness.

Let us know how things go.

Pastor Emanuel David