By Sharon Simmons
Perhaps, by reason of health and strength, I will be blessed enough to participate in the lives of my grandchildren. But I have accepted the fact that I have little to no hope of experiencing an earthly relationship with my family beyond that extent. For that reason, I write this letter in hopes that by sharing some of the methods our family’s current generation is using to reach the eternal shore, future generations may be encouraged to attain their own Heavenly reward. 
To my unknown loved ones,  
At the writing of this letter, our little family consists of four precious souls: my husband and your great-(to whatever extent) grandfather Jimmy, myself, and our wonderful children, Luke and Layla.  
Jimmy is the first preacher in his family. Sometimes being the first bears a heavier load since it neglects to bring with it the experience and edification of successful forebearers. Whether or not any of our lineage continues employment in preaching, our prayer is that you first and foremost bear the most desirable moniker on earth: “Christian.” 
We live our lives not perfectly, but certainly dedicated to the goal of rooting our family’s source of strength deep within the perfect Word of God.  
I’d like to share with you some of the techniques we’re using to build our “forever family,” as we’ve termed it. It is my most earnest prayer that you will learn from our mistakes, perfect our successes, and dedicate your family to God.  
Come home to Heaven. I’ll meet you there. 
With eternal love,  
Your great-(to whatever extent) grandmother Sharon 
Our Blueprint: 
Step 1: Meet the fifth member of our family, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. 
One day, while contemplating John 14:15, I began to ask myself, “How am I going to teach my children to want to obey God?” For, I do not desire any obedience rendered to God to be done so on a compulsory mandate (something done only to please Mom and Dad), but rather as an act of love from a thankful heart.  
While meditating, the verse itself gave me my answer. It was found in the third word of the verse, love. “If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments” (KJV). I knew then that I must “introduce” Luke and Layla to God. They had to know God in order to love Him. And love is necessary for obedience. I knew that I must make God so much a part of our family life that He will always seem like the very present fifth member of our family that He is. 
So, we speak of God on a daily basis. We talk about all the wonderful things He does for us. How He has blessed us. How much He loves us. And how, to show our love for Him, we will keep His commandments. 
Step 2: Let the Jones’ win. 
To borrow the words of Patricia Schroeder, “I have always preferred having wings to having things.” In Ecclesiastes 3:11, we learn that God placed eternity in our hearts. I have heard it described as our souls having a “God-shaped hole” that only He can fill. My journey thus far has born that as fact. Seek “wings” not “things,” and your life will be fulfilled.  
Step 3: Laugh. A lot. 
Here are some of our favorite funny family quotes: 
Layla: “Boys are He-larious. Girls are Her-larious.” 
Luke: “What does P.E. mean?”  
Me: “Physical Education.”  
Luke: “Oh, I thought it meant ‘Playing Eternally.’” 
Layla: “No, Luke. That’s Heaven. Not the gym.” 
Me (during our family devotional): “Over what time span was the Bible written?” 
Luke: “…A.M. and P.M.?” 
Layla: (in her all-or-nothing manner) “Are you going to get me a strawberry pop tart? Or are you going to go to the devil?” 
Laughter is the one medicine you’ll never mind taking daily (Proverbs 17:22).  
Step 4: Read. Remember. 
“The joy of life is living it and doing things of worth, 
In making bright and fruitful all the barren spots of earth. 
In facing odds and mastering them and rising from defeat, 
And making true what once was false, and what was bitter, sweet. 
For only he knows perfect joy whose little bit of soil 
Is richer ground than what it was when he began to toil.”—Edgar A. Guest 
“For this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10)