Bob and Charlyne's Blog - from the heart of a restored marriage

Bob & Charlyne's Blog - from the heart of a restored marriage

May 2009 Archives


There are some phone calls that are predicable every year as the end of school approaches.

"Grandpa," the young voice on the phone coos, "Our big program at school is Thursday and the teacher said our grandparents should come. I have a speaking part. Can you and Grandma come and see me, please?"

That last drawn out, pleading "please" is enough to melt the heart of any grandparent. There's only one reply that is appropriate, "We'll be there." The final question and answer exchange of that grandparent/grandchild phone conversation is always the same; "What time is your program, honey?"

"Eight fifteen in the morning, bye." With that, the young caller is off to harass their other set of grandparents."

Why do school class programs always take place at 8:15 in the morning? I suppose that time is convenient for working parents, but has any teacher ever considered what that time is like for grandparents?

On my normal schedule, 8:15 in the morning is about the time that I am sitting on the edge of the bed, taking inventory of my moving parts to discover what is or is not working that day. It is also the time I search for my glasses, which I had taken off the night before and placed somewhere so I could find them this morning.

After all the parts are moving, and all the lost items found, I get dressed in my 8:15 in the morning attire, which is always the same old blue robe. It is about the time I get my morning pills on board, along with my daily cup of coffee.

I look at the kitchen clock and wonder how in the world tomorrow at 8:15 in the morning I will manage to be cleaned up and dressed, sitting in a classroom halfway across town, filled with strangers, waiting for my grandchild to utter their one memorized line.

At one point, I thought that I had a solution to 8:15 in the morning programs for grandparents. I would attempt to pry that line out of one of our grandchildren, or coax them to sing their special song for me in advance, so I could claim an exemption from attending their 8:15 in the morning program. It doesn't work.

"My teacher said it is a secret and we can't tell anyone before the program."

No amount of coaxing or bribing can get the kid to utter their secret part. My visions of 8:15 in the morning in the old blue robe, and unshaven are out the window.

For the life of me, I can't understand why the part of one grandchild in a school program has to be a secret. I have been trusted with secrets all my life. I promise I can keep this one, especially if hearing it would be grounds for sticking to my normal 8:15 in the morning routine. The future of our nation is secure, if every child grows up protecting secrets as well as they do their part in the class program from grandparents.

It is difficult to imagine there was a time in our lives, a generation ago, when 8:15 in the morning was prime time for Charlyne and me. Somehow, five days a week, we had three children dressed for school by that time. Day after day, it seemed second nature to have the crust cut off the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk money passed out, school papers signed, lost shoes found, homework packed, after school plans co-ordinated, and everyone our the door before 8:00 A.M. All three of our now-adult children now do the same things for their children each morning that we once did for them. How do they effortlessly seem to accomplish so much?

We "baby boomers", (that sounds better than "senor citizens") just can't do the things we once did. At least we can't do them at the times that we once did. There is very little we do at 8:15 in the morning.

At the doctor's office, the mid-day appointments fill up first. I don't even know if the barber who cuts my hair is open before 10:00 A.M. When a repairman is coming to our home, we always opt for afternoon appointments. Only the pleading of a grandchild we love could get us out of the house before 8:15 in the morning.

I wonder who select times for school programs? Could 8:15 in the morning be a teacher's revenge for having to get out of bed before dawn for 180 days of the year to teach our children and grandchildren?

I can picture it now. Several teachers sitting around a table, in a planning session. Details of the first grade program are falling into place. Some teacher asks, "What time should we have the program?" Without batting an eye, the rest of the teachers all gleefully reply in unison, "8:15 in the morning." I don't know what visions race through their head, but it is doubtful it's one of an old man, setting his alarm clock at bedtime, so that he won't disappoint his grandkids the following morning.

I have a suggestion. How about 8:15 in the morning school programs for parents, and then 2:00 in the afternoon matinees for grandparents? If the kids are great in the morning performance, think how much better they would be in a second performance. Besides, any program with such closely guarded secrets needs to be presented more that once.

It would be the perfect time for us baby boomers. We could fit in a matinee at the grandchildren's school between picking up prescriptions at the drug store and the early bird dinner specials. By afternoon, all our body parts would be limbered up and it would be easier for us to drop down into those little classroom chairs that rest about a foot from the floor. In fact, in the afternoon, we may not even need Grandma's help to get out of those little chairs.

Until the rest of the world gets around to calling for matinees for school programs. I'll keep on getting up and going to 8:15 in the morning school programs. I'll keep saying things to Charlyne like, "I never knew there was so much traffic out at 8:15 in the morning," or "Where do these kids get the energy so early in the day?"

I'll keep lowering my big frame into little classroom chairs, and praying they don't give way. I keep waiting for my grandchildren to deliver the lines they have practiced in secret for weeks, things like, "M is for milk. We get milk from cows."

Right then, something changes. After the line is delivered, at that moment when the performing child's gaze touches the eyes of a grandpa, and that little smile that says, "Thanks for coming, Grandpa," the little chair does not seem quite as uncomfortable, nor the hour quite as early. In fact, it even makes the "M is for milk..." line take on a Shakespearian quality.

Getting up extra early wasn't really so bad. It's only 9:00 A.M. and I have the rest of the day. In fact, I'm really glad I came to the program. There's always time for a nap this afternoon.

Sitting there, on that little wooden chair, my spirit warmed by that approving look from my grandchild, I think about all the grandparents who could not even consider attending the program. Here in South Florida, we have hundreds of thousands of grandmas and grandpas whose grandchildren live a thousand miles away. What any of them would give to be able to attend a 8:15 in the morning program for their grandchild.

Yes, those grandparents may receive an email or a video clip later in the day, but nothing apart from being in that classroom at 8:15 in the morning could ever capture the approving twinkle that I catch from my grandchild.

I think about the dozens and dozens of nursing homes in our community. How many of their residents would appreciate attending a school program at 8:15 in the morning, if only they could.

I also think about the little thespians whose grandparents have died. For some children, they never knew their grandparents. How a grandpa or grandma, looking from Heaven's window, must wish they could occupy one of those little chairs, if only for a few minutes.

Know what I've decided? 8:15 in the morning isn't such a bad time for a class program after all. As long as Charlyne and I can get there, any time is a good time to watch one of our grandchildren perform, using the talents that God has blessed them with.

I wonder when the next 8:15 in the morning program will be? With seven grandchildren, it can't be far away.



Saturday evening I signed a book for a contest winner. Afterward I looked at my name. It was only one step above chicken scratching. How I have wished I could sign my name with a large "B" in Bob that was perfectly formed and every letter in "Steinkamp" legible. In years past, I have even practiced my signature and have done pretty well, but the next time I signed something, it looked like the chickens had come back.

We have some old elementary school papers with "Bobby Steinkamp" scribbled on them. About junior high, the signature became "Bob Steinkamp." Once I was out of school, my signature went to "Robert E. Steinkamp."

I thought about the tens of thousands of places my signature appeared. As a funeral director, I signed thousands of death certificates. I have signed credit card slips and checks without even thinking how my name would look.

Two marriage license have been signed with Charlyne. Both times I was nervous about what I was doing. In between, a property settlement agreement was signed, where I as a prodigal was basically giving our children and our home to Charlyne. I was so unglued that signature does not even look like my usual poor signature. Even then I knew our divorce was wrong. It is very difficult to sign a name when God is gently twisting an arm.

I have signed letters and documents that gave me great joy. I have signed other things that brought me sadness. Regardless of the circumstances, my signature always appeared to be rushed and, well, it looks sloppy.

A few weeks I ago I was helping Kyle, one of our third grade twin grandchildren, with a school project. After the words were written and the photos glued on, Kyle proudly scribbled his name. It looked like a third generation "Bobby Steinkamp" signature. When I asked Kyle if he could have signed his report with better handwriting, Kyle replied, "That's me, Grandpa."

The title of a song heard on Stop Divorce Radio declares a great promise of hope about our God; "He Knows My Name." Our Lord God does not need to be able to read my signature to know me. He even knows the number of (thinning) hairs on my head. He knew all about me before I was even born. He knows how long I will be on this earth.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 is my favorite verse that affirms God knows me:

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you."

Most likely you are on this web site because of your burden from someone you love. It may be a prodigal spouse or prodigal child. Regardless of the relationship, please remember that God knows all about that person. God's heart is being broken over what they are doing, just as is happening to you.

Regardless of what your loved one is placing their signature on today, God has a way of escape. It may be a divorce decree, a (non-covenant) marriage license, the birth certificate of a child with the other person, an apartment lease with someone else, checks to take away your money, letters of hate addressed to you, or scores of other documents.

God may not change how a signature appears, but He sure can change what appears above that signature. The first step is a changed heart. Will you keep praying for your prodigal until that happens?

Think I'll go practice signing my name.


Yesterday I went to the barber shop. I have been to this shop several times, but the barber really does not know me well. Mid-way through my haircut I looked at the floor and was thankful it had hair all over it. I had suddenly remembered there was no money in my wallet. Maybe the barber would let me sweep his floor to pay the price for my haircut.

Within two minutes Charlyne walked into the shop, a place where she had never been before. She had also remembered that I had no money and came looking to hand me a twenty dollar bill.

I started to think about this incident and how much it might be like the judgement day that the Bible says we each will face. In our sin, we will each stand before God, unable to pay the price for our transgressions. My sweeping the barbershop floor when I had no money to pay is about as foolish as a person attempting to buy their way into Heaven with good works. It just does not equal out.

Just as Charlyne showed up to rescue me yesterday, Jesus will be there on Judgement Day to stand before God to say, "I paid the price for Bob's sin by dying on the cross for him." Because of Jesus I will have life eternal with Him in Heaven.

Have you confessed to the Lord that your spiritual pockets are empty and you have no way to pay the price? Have you received Him as your Savior? I pray that you have.

Why do Charlyne and I do what we do every day? Because people we love and people you love have empty pockets. Together let's pray our prodigals turn to Jesus with sincere and humble hearts before it is too late.


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