Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Legacy

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we've left behind
May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road we each must find
Find us Faithful, Steve Green

If you ever doubt the rapid passage of time, spend a week with your grandchildren.  When I see Elisabeth, now fifteen, I wonder at the years that have gone by as I remember the day she was born and thinking I wasn't old enough to be a grandmother.  ;)

It was only yesterday it seems that we were just starting out in a studio apartment in married student housing as my husband was studying for a graduate degree.   I had all kinds of hopes for what kind of family we would become over the years. 

It doesn't seem all that long ago that I was reading parenting books and calling my mother to ask what I was to do with a newborn.  (Her advice was... let her sleep whenever she will sleep!)  I was my mother's unexpected youngest child and honestly, I knew nothing about raising children.  I hardly knew how to change a diaper.

However, I was fortunate to have an easy baby to practice on and she doesn't seem to be any worse for my inexperience.  In my constant learning, I discovered that love really does cover all sins... or mistakes.  As with any first child, we had high expectations and had to balance them with fun and laughter and love.

I began to think of my legacy even in my twenties.  I think losing a parent as a child does something to the way you look at a lifespan and I knew tomorrow was not guaranteed.  So each day I had with my daughter to pour life and love and art and beauty and reading and music and Jesus into her was a gift. I made certain she experienced her first tea room after a well baby checkup.  We did have priorities.

Twelve years later, I had my own unexpected child and once again felt inadequate.  This time because I knew nothing about raising a boy.  I soon learned it took a lot of energy and the willingness to climb trails, walk dry creek beds looking for rocks and arrowheads (and snakes), developing an affection for family friendly anime and superhero movies, and to always be searching for books boys will like.

I went through a time when I was concerned for my children because there were so many years with difficult circumstances. There were some prosperous years but many that we had to be more frugal than I'd like and we moved more often than I wanted and there were difficult Christians and nice people who were obviously sinners and my health began to decline and life was a lot more complicated than I ever expected and they asked questions with no easy answers.

We did the best we could given everything God allowed to come our way but I also knew that as parents, we can do our very best and still be disappointed in the way children turn out.  Let's face it, God's first kids were in a perfect environment with a perfect parent and they still made the wrong decision. 

About the time I turned sixty... I could begin to see my legacy.  Our family's legacy.  It was as if God opened my spiritual eyes and let me see all those years as He saw them.  For the hard times were when we sought Jesus the most.  The very things that tear some families apart, drew us together because we had a Rock to cling to every day. 

I realized that legacy is built not so much on the big stuff but what we do day-to-day.  Not on what we preach but what we practice.  How my family chooses to be Jesus to others.  How we practice our Biblical beliefs while loving people who are different than us. My legacy... our legacy in the generations to come as the world gets darker... is how we choose to be salt and light.

I wish my legacy included less worry and more trusting God... trusting my instincts instead of being afraid of what others would say.  I didn't even realize it at the time but I was afraid of being judged over the silliest things. 

As I write this, I'm listening to a series of George Strait videos in another window on You Tube.  How plebeian.  How country.  How not at all cosmopolitan.  How not at all Christian you know because he sings about leaving Amarillo by morning and losing a wife and a girlfriend along the way.

What will people think?  I no longer care about such things because that is who I am.  I have come a long way from the child who grew up across the gravel road from a grain elevator but there are some things that remain and by gosh there is nothing wrong with a good country song... or two... or three.  I am a person who prefers the country to the city any day.  At this age I can roll my eyes and tell people to get over it.

I was worried my daughter would get too much New Age teaching in the public schools and my son would not get enough academics in our homeschool.  I was worried about the people they would marry and how that would change our family dynamic and all kinds of stuff.

Oh, ye of little faith.  All that prayer that went into forming a family really did work.  The prayers for their spouses from the time they were babies were answered by a man and a woman I love as if I raised them.  Working full time outside the home when both kids were little didn't scar them forever.  We not only survived in spite of our quirks and our griefs and our crazy days but we flourished.

When I spend time with grandchildren that I thoroughly enjoy being with, that is what I leave behind.  They not only are being raised in Christian homes where Christ is the center but in homes where there is a whole lot of laughter and fun.  Not because there are perfect days or perfect people but because our journey is taking us all to the same Person and Place.

I've already made a date with my grandson, David.  I've decided I want horses with my Heavenly mansion so we are going to go riding together.  When you know we are just passing through and each day is in preparation for Eternity, it puts things in balance.  Yes, I pray each of my grandchildren come to know Christ at an early age but not just as a Savior but as their best friend.  I want them to smile when they think of Jesus. 

I want them to know this world is not all there is and that heaping up stuff is not what it is all about.   Although I may have to explain all those teacups and dishes and books.  No, come to think of it... they get the books.  That is part of my legacy, too.  ;)

Photo:  Elisabeth and Piper, the oldest and the youngest grandchildren.


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I love this, Brenda!

I can relate on in so many ways! Thank you for the reminder of the Perfect parent and Adam and Eve. I need to hear that once in a while!

Love your photo of your oldest and youngest grands!

Thankful for you friend!

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

What a wonderful essay/post, not sure what to call it....I am also at the point where I can see some of this. (After all, I'm older than you!) I love that my children love and support one another through many challenges that others may not see. They have good hearts. They share my love of reading and of the natural world. I see so much of their Dad in them, too. We all count our blessings together.And we have been blessed.

Anonymous said...

You have done a lovely job in raising your children.
I have many regrets, not huge ones, but regrets all the same.
However, and it's a big HOWEVER, two of my three adult children are Christians and the other child comes to church and hears the gospel very often. Also, my two grandsons (7 and 5) also come to church with us. God IS good.
Your granddaughter, Elisabeth is beautiful!
Kay in U.K.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful legacy! Love the picture!

rebecca said...

I share many of your perspectives & reflections, Brenda. Happy with/for you re. the time spent with your grandchildren. Continue to walk in wisdom, peace & grace through the seasons of life. The words of "May the Mind of Christ My Savior" are closest to my heart and desire for myself. ♥

Jane said...

I always enjoy your posts but this one really resonates with me as I prepare to move from a place my family has lived in for 70 years or so. Clearing out and going through things really puts the idea of a legacy into perspective. Please continue posting your inspirational thoughts. The photo of your oldest and youngest grandchildren is just lovely!

Vee said...

Such lovely granddaughters... I very much enjoyed reading this post. I've read it several times. (My computer does not want me to leave comments. So many up in smoke...)

Heather LeFebvre said...

I'm so glad you got to have this visit from the eastern family!!!!!! Can't believe how time flies!!! Our 18th anniversary today and it does seem like yesterday we were in our starter apartment....

Thickethouse.wordpress said...

And have I mentioned how beautiful your grandchildren are and what a great legacy you and your husband have achieved? So wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Awww! So happy for you that your daughter and grandkids could come out to see you! Love the photo of your oldest and youngest granddaughters! Couldn't believe that was Piper with blonde hair! I remember her baby picture with a head full of dark hair! You have a such a wonderful legacy! I can understand how looking at, and spending time with your grandkids, makes you realize all the struggles and hardships were worth it all! We had our struggles, too, over the years, and I am So thankful our married are survived! Our first grand baby was born on Mother's Day this year and all I can say is, Wow! I waited a long time to be a grandma and I am head-over-heals in love!! It was worth the wait! Now I just need super doses of energy to last spending all day with him! I get to babysit him while Momma goes back to work, three days a week. It's wonderful and amazing to realize this new little one is part of me, and our incredible!
Once again, thanks for sharing. Your words always inspire.
Laura C.(WA)

Kellylynn said...

Amarillo by mornin'
Up from San Antone.....:-)

I smiled all the way through reading your post.
I agree with Laura C. -You inspire :-)
Thank you.

With love,
Kellylynn - from San Antone :-)

Anonymous said...

Beautiful granddaughters!!
Elizabeth in WA

Melissa said...

Yes! and thank you for sharing. So glad you had this wonderful visit with your grandchildren.