Legacy - Part 1
Lollipops, M&M’s, chips, beef jerky, more chips, hot dogs, crabs and Friendly’s ice cream to wash it all down.
This is how we eat on vacation. By the time we come home I usually just want fresh fruit and peanut butter and jelly. So, after I put the last load of laundry in and the sheets were clean, that is what we had, PB&J with fresh strawberries. After savoring the simple, the babies napped in their own beds, (rather than car seats,) and I edited pictures for three days in a row, trying to hold on to the memories and the sweet moments each one held.
We traveled to the east coast for 6 days...two of those were flying days...so for four days we got to see family, hug grandparents and great-grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins. We laughed. I cried. (They were happy tears.) We went swimming and we ran and we breathed in the thick, drenched air. We ran through the bright green grass and we caught lighting bugs or fireflies...whichever you prefer to call them.
I spent one whole day with my grandmother...my Mom-mom. She is my last grandparent on this side of heaven. We went to ihop. She had the Rooty-Tooty, Fresh and Fruity Breakfast with strawberries. I had the Belgian Waffle Combo. We talked about Poppy. He went to be with Jesus a year ago in March. We celebrated his life on what would have been his birthday. We both teared up in small moments as we remembered and recounted together.
We talked about my great-grandmother, Grace. My Mom-mom’s mother. We talk about her sister Alice. We talked about Grandma Baxter, Grace's mother, my great-great grandmother. We talked about Poppy’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Shiflett, as she called them. This is what I learned:
Grandma Baxter was a school teacher. A man came to her who had 6 children including an infant. His wife had died in childbirth. He had heard she was a good woman. He asked her to marry him. She wasn’t sure. They had dinner. She decided she would.
She raised those children. She had 11 of her own. Then she helped raise another 3 or 4 of her grandchildren. 21 children. And, she loved the Lord and shared His love with those babies.
What a legacy.
Grandma Grace was everything to everyone. She raised 9 children of her own. One died very young, as a baby. My mom-mom was the youngest. Through the depression she kept food in her family’s bellies because she canned everything. If a baby was being born, she was the midwife. If someone was sick and couldn’t get to a doctor, they came to her or she went to them. She wrote in a journal everyday. She loved the Lord.
What a legacy.
Aunt Alice, one of Grace's daughters felt called to start a church. She suffered from Tuberculosis. However, it didn’t stop her from pursuing what she felt called to do. She organized a church. They met under the trees. She contacted a landowner to purchase land to build a structure. He gave her the land. The people of the church built the church. My great-grandfather paid for the roof. My Mom-mom grew up in that church and married my Poppy there. Aunt Alice went to be with the Lord at the young age of 24.
What a legacy.
My Mom-mom raised 5 children of her own. Each of them hard workers who know of the love of Jesus and love each other so much. She is calm and easy-going but certain of strong convictions that she will not budge on. She is honest and tells it like it is and warm and gentle all at the same time. She lives in the same house she raised her children, a house where I have many fond memories. She has 9 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. She has 5 cats. (And an enormous amount of “grand-pets.” Our family is made up of animal lovers, my Aunt Kimmie says it’s in the genes...I believe her.)
What a legacy.
For awhile now I have been reflecting on that word, legacy. After spending that precious time with my Grandmother and that evening with my family and the crab feast, (where I put down about 20 crabs...) I realized that I am the heir of an incredible legacy of love.
People are not perfect. Great-Great Grandma Baxter, Great-Grandma Grace, Mom-mom, my mom and myself included, have never been perfect. But we have been or are still being perfected by the love of our Savior and that has given each of us the capacity to love others.
Watching my family as we met at my cousins house that Friday evening, which he so graciously opened to everyone at the last minute, I saw how this is a family that would do anything for each other. Love covers any wrong-doings and any hurt. Sure, complaints and gripes rear their ugly heads from time to time, that’s human stuff, but at the end of the day, when all is said and done, the legacy of love wins.
Oh, how I pray, I can carry this on to my own and theirs.
I wrote this in my journal a while back,
What is success?
Helping people walk in the freedom and beauty God intended for them.
To pass on a legacy, an inheritance of faith, cloaked in righteousness, that operates in the freedom offered by our Savior.
I must have felt pretty fancy and theological that day. The truth is I can’t succeed in either of those without walking it all out in love.
I have experienced not only salvation that comes from knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior but I have experienced freedom that comes with it. I have been set free from the wrong-doings of my past, the hurt inflicted by others and myself, I have been set free from guilt and condemnation. I want that for everyone...I think that is why the words above describe success for me. If I can help a person experience the freedom offered through what Jesus did for them, I will call it a success.
But it all stems from love.
For God so loved the world that gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life...
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay one’s life down for His friends...
Love covers a multitude of sins...
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God!
I have been chewing on the idea of “legacy,” for a while because I realize I get this one chance to impact my kids and that impact will effect their kids and so on. It is a grave responsibility. One I take ever too lightly at times. I want to teach my children so they will teach their children that everything we do should be motivated out of love and that learning that lesson is a life-long journey, one that requires understanding grace so they can both give and receive it.
I want them to know that love really is patient and kind and it does not envy. It does not parade itself or is puffed up.
I want them to know that His Love never fails...even when we fail.
I learned so much from my Grandmother that day and from my great and great-great Grandmothers, as well. The conversation was so rich that it will take decades to unpack all the meaning and lessons in her words. For this I am grateful. I will never forget the day the "Love" stories and the "Grace" stories were laid out before me. I intend to do my part to carry them on.
Stay tuned, my friend, the trip didn’t end there. That’s only one side of the story. Look for part 2, coming soon.