Sunday, February 14, 2021

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Thoughts about 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

I've been thinking a lot about legacy recently as the final report on the allegations against Ravi Zacharias have been found to be true and made available.  I want to write more about that next week but first, I thought it would be good to share some thoughts about legacy that I wrote a few years ago.  Elisabeth is now nineteen and Piper is now four years old.

If you ever doubt the rapid passage of time, spend a week with your grandchildren.  When I see Elisabeth, age fifteen (now nineteen), 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, her only child from her second marriage.  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. I knew tomorrow was not guaranteed.  

So each day I had with my daughter was important to pour life... and love... and art... and beauty... and reading... and music... and Jesus into her world. 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 in which we had to be more frugal than I'd like.  There were seasons of moving more than I wanted.

Then 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 could 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 was going to turn 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 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.

I was concerned 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 concerned 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 granddaughters.


LaurieS said...

This is such a lovely post and timely for me.
We have recently had our first grandchild, a girl. And now my lovely Daughter whom I love so dear has been asking me all kinds of things.
It's nice to know that "Mom" is back and that maybe my daughter does need me, just a little!

Anonymous said...

Such a beautiful post. Sometimes I wonder if I did enough or did the right things.
I, too, knew zilch about raising children and I marvel that I got him grown and he
turned out to be a wonderful young man and a great dad. All glory to God Who
blessed in spite of my insufficiency. Blessings, Sharon D.

Anonymous said...

This was so good and thought provoking! I often think about the legacies my parents left behind, but wonder what my kids and grandkids will remember about me? I did the best I could, and believe me, it wasn’t always easy, but by the grace of God, they grew up to be awesome adults! God is good! And now we get to love and enjoy our grandkids! This is the icing on the cake, for sure!
Laura C.(WA)

Suzan said...

How wonderful. Yesterday I throughly enjoyed my granddaughter's game of being a kitten yesterday. How I love family time.

Bernideen said...

Cute grandchildren and such a blessing!

Carol in Texas said...

What a lovely blog entry........such important thoughts to share and ponder. Finally at age 82 I have gotten to where I don't bother much what others think. It took too long! And talk about an ignorant new mother! That first son survived in spite of me i think! But our two sons have made wonderful men and fathers and, I hope husbands. They are married to lovely ladies who are such good mothers. I feel truly blessed. I so enjoy your blog. I am glad you decided to keep it up. Keep sharing your loves and your worries with us please.

Anonymous said...

You are a very fortunate person to have your children turn out the way they have, because some of us who have also lived a similar life have not. But as my mama always told me, that while there is life, there is hope. Sometimes hope is about all we have. But all in all, everything in this life indeed makes the next life such a wonderful thing to look forward to also!!

Deanna Rabe said...

That is one of my favorite Steve Green songs.

We always have to remember as well, that our children belong to God, and our job is to be faithful. The Holy Spirit has the job of drawing them to Christ! Such a relief!

Vee said...

That's the sweetest photo of the oldest and youngest granddaughters.

I do not know that song, but I am going looking for it.

Karin said...

Brenda, I've been following your blog for years and thanks to your advice on prepping, I am weathering the winter storm disaster in Texas very well. I have a well stocked pantry and haven't had to try to get out for supplies. I've been keeping a running list of things that I wish I would have had so I can be better prepared for a future emergency. Thank you so much for your gentle prodding to stay ready for the unforeseen.

Carolyn said...

What you say is very thought provoking. Thank you for sharing. I so enjoy your blog.