Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
and parents are the pride of their children.
–Proverbs 17:6

An hour with your grandchildren can make you feel young again.
Anything longer than that, and you start to age quickly.
–Gene Perret

Dear Munchkins,

I asked God for three things when I was in college. First, that He would bring me a woman of noble character to be my wife. Second, that He would bless me with children. And, third, that He would let me live long enough to experience the joy of being a grandparent. Because of His unmerited favor and tender mercies, God answered all three requests, and my life has been richly blessed ever since.

While I am so grateful to have a wonderful wife and three awesome kids, being your granddad brings me joy that goes beyond what I could have ever hoped for or imagined. Nothing I have experienced during my almost seven decades on this planet compares with how awesome it is to have you grandkids, not even my beloved Texas Longhorns winning the college football national championship in 2005, and I was sure nothing was ever going to top that.

While you’ve only been here a short time, you’ve already given me and everyone else so much joy and happiness. One of the most enjoyable parts of that for me has been the dozens of times you’ve made me laugh.

Just the other day, one of you asked me how I put on my socks and shoes. You wanted to know if I put a sock on and then a shoe on or if I put both socks on and then both shoes. After I informed you that I mix things up to keep my life interesting, you seemed quite satisfied with my answer and went on to ask me about other things that interested you. I’m still smiling about that particular exchange and know that many more are to come.

The name I chose for you to call me is “Pop,” the name I called my grandfather on my mother’s side. Because of your inordinate interest in pooping and farting, you have expanded the names you call me to include Poopy Pop, Pop Fart, and Poopy Head. I’m not sure why you don’t call your grandmother, Nonnie, names like that, but I’ve come to accept it as your way of telling me you love me.

When I refer to you collectively, I call you “munchkins” based on characters in The Wizard of Oz. You know, like “Come on, munchkins, we’re going to take a walk rather than watch ten more hours of cartoons” and “Munchkins, pick up all the toys you’ve thrown all over the place before your parents come to get you.” According to Merriam-Webster, a munchkin is “a person who is notably small and often endearing.” That describes you guys—small and often (not always) endearing. So, when I’m not referring to you as ankle biters, rug rats, nose-miners, and grumpy pants, I’m going to call you munchkins.

Going to Disney World with you granddaughters recently led to writing this book. I turned 68 while we were there (thanks for singing Happy Birthday, at least I think it was Happy Birthday), and inching closer to my eighth decade prompted me to think about what I want to leave behind for you munchkins when my days on earth come to an end. I felt nudged by God to write a book of advice on how to live life in the healthiest way possible.

I want to mention a few things before I start doling out advice.

First, you need to know I’m writing this book just for you. I’ve never written a book for such a select group of people before, but I’ve learned over the years to stop worrying about how many people read what I write. Worrying about it never did any good, and most of my books have only been read by family and close friends anyway. So, munchkins, this one’s for you. If the three of you read it, I will die a happy man.

Second, you need to know I believe there are truths, principles and core values for how to live life in a healthy manner that never change. They are valid no matter what time period you live in, what part of the world you live in, or how God uniquely knit you together with talent, ability, interests, and personality. Lots of young people seem to think everything is up in the air and negotiable when it comes to how to live life properly. I don’t agree. If you want advice that anchors itself in timeless truths and core values, this book’s for you.

Third, you’re going to be tempted to push back on what I say in this book. As human beings, we’re all prone to want to take the easy path, the one that doesn’t require hard work, sacrifice, or suffering on our part. All the advice I’m going to give you will require some degree of pain and suffering on your part if you follow it. Please, resist the urge to push back on my advice just because it’s hard to follow. Follow it because it’s hard, not because it’s easy.

Finally, I want to encourage you to value your parent’s advice over mine. Your parents are your earthly authority, and I want you to honor and respect the advice they give you over what I say. If my advice differs from your parent’s, listen to them. They’ll be wrong, but listen to them anyway.

Munchkins, thanks for bringing such happiness and joy to our lives. I hope and pray the advice I’m about to give you will make your life better and bring glory to God, the One who fearfully and wonderfully made you in His image.

Love,
Pop