Hidden Heroes {Silver Edition}

When our daughter Brynn was preschool age, she reacted in wonder when we explained to her that her grandma was my mom.

We smiled as we watched her put the family pieces together. Then she asked, “Daddy, where is your mom?”

“Well, she’s not here, Honey. She’s in heaven.”

When kids are four years old, this answer suffices just fine. But when they’re five and six and seven, they ask more questions. So we find ourselves explaining all over again. And with each additional inquiry, we carefully navigate the conversation, offering only age-appropriate information.

Last year, Brynn started asking more questions. We could see her eight-year-old mind putting more pieces together. Then she shocked us as she turned to me and asked, “Mommy, is your dad dead too?”

We just stared at her. We didn’t know what to say.

Finally, I answered, “No, Honey. My dad isn’t dead. At least, I don’t think so.”

“Then where is he? Why doesn’t he come see us?”

I have no explanation to give her, for I don’t have one myself.

My husband has a good excuse as to why his deceased parents don’t visit. They can’t. They have no choice in the matter. But my dad left a long time ago, and it can be years between phone calls.

My mom is the only grandparent in their lives, but she lives hundreds of miles away and can only visit a couple of times a year. So, for the most part, Jeff and I are used to being parentless. As far as regular ole’ everyday life goes, it’s just our little family, doing life alone.

But there is one silver-haired couple at church who has been a God-send to us. On Sunday mornings, Bob and Diana have hugged our kids as they walk to Sunday School. They have invited us over for dinner, pulling up an extra chair to the table. They have even remembered our kids’ birthdays. Every year.

We’ve adopted them as our kids’ “local grandparents.” Or maybe they’ve adopted us. Either way, words can’t express how much they mean to us. The way they have loved our family has served as such an example to us. Sometimes Jeff and I will talk—late into the night—about the kind of “old people” we want to be. We agree that we want to be like Bob and Diana.

We want to be the kind of people who widens the circle of our family.

This past Saturday morning, Bob and Diana invited us over for breakfast. They made us blueberry pancakes and scrambled eggs and crispy bacon. They even started a fire in the fireplace to honor their guests.

You would think that a little boy and a little girl would moan at the prospect of going to the home of an elderly couple. But when we told our kids we were going to Bob and Diana’s, they whooped and hollered. They couldn’t wait.

Bob is a retired woodshop teacher, and he has built a tree-house with a zip-line/swing in his backyard. The kids have been playing in that tree-house for several years now, creating some of the sweetest childhood memories.

On Saturday, while my younger kids played outside, my teenage daughter joined the “adults” in the living room. Diana gave her a book called 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know By Heart. Each of the 100 verses is accompanied with a personal story of how that verse has touched someone. My sixteen-year-old daughter sat there and soaked up every word.

I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony. I have been writing about Bible verses on my blog for years. I also have hundreds of books on our shelves that are filled with spiritual wisdom. But sometimes a teenager is more interested in this kind of gift from someone who isn’t her mom. I understand this. And I am so thankful for Diana’s thoughtful generosity.

We tend to think of heroes in terms of individual acts—whether it’s an impressive athletic achievement or a one-time display of courage under remarkable circumstances.

But I have another definition of a hero: Someone who humbly offers himself or herself to serve others. By this definition, Jesus is the ultimate hero. No one has sacrificed more, humbled himself more, or served others more than the Son of God.

And if we are to take up our cross and follow Him, we must do likewise. Sacrificing ourselves. Humbling ourselves. And serving others.

There are heroes in our churches, hidden among our pews, serving behind the scenes. These heroes aren’t necessarily the ones preaching powerful sermons or singing spectacular solos. They’re the ones who hug kids and welcome strangers.

They’re the ones who invite you over for blueberry pancakes.

Do you know a hidden hero in your church? Is there someone you could be a hidden hero to?

On Mondays, I am writing a new series called “Hidden Heroes,” recalling the ones who have ministered to me personally in heroic ways.

Today, I am thankful for . . .

106. blueberry pancakes made by elderly hands
107. a table set to welcome guests
108. a crackling fire
109. funny stories
110. a gift of love
111. backyard tree-houses
112. backyard zip-lines
113. hugs all-around

While reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, I started keeping a list of the things I am thankful for.

41 thoughts on “Hidden Heroes {Silver Edition}

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  7. What a wonderful blessing these two beautiful people are! To have this much love and to spread it around like you describe here…well, it just leaves me gape-mouthed and speechless. I’m go glad you have such a wonderful thing and praising God with you for it.

  8. This post really touched my heart. We have heros all around us and sometimes we don’t recognize them as heros. You did a great job exposing them for what they are….a gift from God.
    What a blessing.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. My oldest son used to ask that – and he couldn’t fathom why anyone’s dad wouldn’t be a part of their lives. I remember telling him, “Not all dads are like your dads.” There’s a couple in our church who became my spiritual mom and dad. ALL (25 to 11) look to Everett in awe – and let him give them mighty hugs. Joan went home to be with the Lord a few years ago – but I remember my son calling me from camp – he was a counselor and one of his campers had a mom with cancer. He wanted me to call Joan so we could all pray. It’s a powerful thing – these spiritual parents God gives us to fill the gaps:) I love your story:)

  10. In our Christian community we have many heroes to look up to and emulate. I guess we shouldn’t wait till we are old to be like Bob and Diana! We should look for others around us that need our encouragement, and some yummy blueberry pancakes! Thanks for sharing! Enjoyed it!

  11. Oh wow, I totally get this. My parents live 1,500 miles away. My husband’s mom died last year, and his dad is now suffering from terminal cancer (and they live 500 miles away). Our neighbors, Karna and John, have adopted our kids (and my husband and me!) – I call them our surrogate grandparents. And right now, when my husband is away caring for his dad in MN, Karna and John are taking such good care of me and my boys. I am so grateful.

  12. I think this is wonderful. Growing up in Zambia, we had an older lady who came just to be a grandma to all the mk’s that never saw their grandparents. She was truly a blessing. I thank God for people who look for lives to invest in.

  13. This gets me. My wife and I don’t have our parents nearby either. Parenting is hard work. Bless those saints who stand in the gap for us. Their presence often feels like the difference between sanity and insanity, and our lives are so much richer when we belong to, and participate in, multi-generational communities.

    With this post, you’ve really highlighted one of those most important needs in our modern do-it-on-your-own communities. Yes, bless those who serve beyond their immediate or extended families …

    • “Their presence often feels like the difference between sanity and insanity…”

      Oh my goodness, you are so right about that! Their presence DOES feel like the difference between sanity and insanity. And I so appreciate what you said about belonging to a multi-generational community. I think that is so important!

  14. Oh, I just love this… I had a set of these folks too growing up – we called them “spare” grandma and grandpa. I agree, being a hero looks something like this.

  15. How we love, Bob and Diana and their blueberry pancakes too. That zip line is truly their love language to the kids of our church! What a wonderful tribute to a beautiful couple.

  16. Oh, Denise, we are a small family of three and God has blessed us with an older couple (Karen & Kirby) that are like your Bob and Diana…we are very grateful! They are our daughter’s godparents and local grandparents. Thank you so much for sharing how God has blessed your family with them and for honoring them by telling us about their impact on your family’s life. Thank you! Blessings to you and yours.

  17. This makes me teary. I haven’t seen my mother for fourteen years, my father has never been a significant part of my life and my mother-in-law (God’s gift to me) lives thousands of miles away. My two children have grown up without family close by and I have always prayed for a Bob and Diana in their lives. So far, no one has showed up. My daughter will be 16 in March. You are so blessed and I loved this story showing it.

  18. You made me homesick and happy all at once with this post! My parents and sister, grandparents, aunties, cousins and extended family are all on the other side of the Atlantic. So we are “the family five” as my son calls us – count 4 and a dog! But I too am grateful for brothers and sisters here in my church family and friendships fostered here. There are heroes all around us and they usually carry the badge of humility, I find. Thank you for your wonderful and wise words today.

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