Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - the legacy of the next generation

I opened to the first chapter of Edith Schaeffer's book What is a Family for the first time, reading her account of living in a family for sixty years, first as a baby and then as a wife and mother.

My goodness, sixty was... ancient!

I was living the newlywed years at the time and I had not become a mother.  But I knew when I did, I wanted to be a mother like Edith, who admitted she was far from perfect but whose inspiration poured into me the model of the kind of Christian I wanted to become.

I wasn't raised in a Christian home and due to various circumstances, had a very unhappy childhood and adolescence after my father's sudden death.

So God used Edith to build a foundation where one was needed, to provide a Christian worldview in addition to that which my own parents had done their best to provide... imperfectly but with much love.

Edith reminded me in her books (for it seemed to so many that she was writing just for each individually) that years pass quickly and we have but a short time to share our influence upon our children.

When I read the book for the first time, I couldn't comprehend that truth.  Life was my oyster, I stood as a bride with years before me whose end I could not begin to see.  It was difficult to comprehend my future children becoming old enough to go to school, much less as adults some day.

Now as a grandmother myself, I look back and wonder where the decades... much less the years... have gone.

There was a saying I came across at one time that went, "When you raise a daughter, you raise your own best friend".  I would add to that a son, too.  Oh, not a best friend we pal around with all the time for some leave the nest for far away places, or they are busy with work and their own homes, or just life happens in general.

But it still amazes me when I am in conversation with my kids and find in many ways they are so much like myself.  Well, and their father.  But being human nature is what it is... I notice me in them.

I suppose it shouldn't come as a shock for that is what was my desire as I walked with them and talked with them and taught them and shared my books and my recipes and made chocolate chip cookies.

I wanted them to love what I love and enjoy what makes my heart sing.  Most of all, I wanted them to know the Person without whom my life would lay somewhere in a pit of pity.  Without Him I would not know what Beauty looks like for it is through His eyes that I look at the world.

It is His song I dance to and His music I hear and it is in the love of the Trinity that I found true Joy.  Before becoming a mother I knew... sharing that Love would be the foundation of everything else.

Through that filter of God's love, I shared the Beauty of forests and flowers and gardens and the rising of the sun and the setting of the sun and winter's snow and spring's new life and kitties and doggies and the animals at the petting zoo.

I watched as each learned to decipher letters and form them into words and come to know my passion for the gift God has given to our finite self... the gift of reading.  For through the pages of a book we can leave the Midwestern corn fields and travel to exotic pages.

We can soak in the wisdom of men and women who came before us and adopt them as mentors in the journey He has given.  To borrow a phrase from a literary mentor, "We can read to know we are not alone".

I love sharing inside the family jokes that only the four of us would truly understand from their genesis... now shared with much loved children-in-law (who at times probably wonder at this family they married into).

Joy can be found in sitting around the table and eating on Great Grandmother's china the same food Grandmother made for the Holidays, remembering those who have gone before and thinking of young grandchildren now learning to make these very same recipes.

I even enjoy that we can spend time together and not talk at all.  Which they know would never happen with their father.  :)

Perfect?  Far from it for only one Man lived who was truly without sin.  But good.  Quite wonderful, actually.

Edith often reminded us that if we are only satisfied when we find perfection, we will end up with nothing (my paraphrase).  Life has had its' challenges when I found myself stomping my feet and complaining and whining and reminding God that this (whatever "this" is at the time) is completely unacceptable.

But that is when the Father smiles and reminds this mother that it is not Heaven, yet.  And that He has gifted me with many good things.  He has made my boundaries to be in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).  I just have to look at my children and grandchildren.

Image: Vanessa Bell; The Artist's Daughter


Bookie said...

Beautiful post for this the print you included on your page too! Happy Mother's Day to you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this very encouraging post. I have two grown children and two in high school. I, too, wonder where the time has gone. I am so glad we had so much time to learn and study together. I need to get out "What is a Family" again. Have you seen the books, "With Love, Edith" and "Dear Family"? They are compilations of her letters written to family over many years. The first one about the early years of their marriage and beginnings of L'Abri is my favorite. They are out of print, but some exist on Amazon. Dianne L

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
Lovely post today! Sometimes we get so busy with life that we forget to look around for the blessings. Thanks for the reminder. Happy Mothers Day. Love and Hugs, Nana

Deborah Montgomery said...

such a lovely post for today, Brenda. I often quote that line to myself about perfection or nothing! she has been an encouragement to me as well. Happy Mother's Day to you.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately children can be raised in a Godly home with homeschooling and tenderness. The world will gobble them up and before you know it they are gone and will never come back. On Mother's day we a reminded that not everyone has flowers and dinner. Many spend the day in bed in the fetal position crying ourselves sick as evil has robbed us of our one true cherished gift. I ponder as to why we were given this child to raise only to have it taken from us? I see no purpose. Families I know who struggle with this are decent and loving parents. So we are left questioning.....

Deb J. in Utah said...

What a lovely posts for Mother's Day! Thank you!

Living on Less Money said...

I enjoyed this post so much. I'm a reader but I've never read an entire book of Edith's. Your post has intrigued me and given me a desire to read one.

Judy said...

Just a little note to Anonymous - I hope you come back to find this.

I am so sad for your sorrow - that your Mother's Day was so painful. Having a child wander from faith and family is such a heartache. I think it gives us a peek into the heart of our Heavenly Father - His sorrow at our wandering from all that He desires for us. Know that your sorrow is His too. You are not alone.

And the story is not yet over - as you continue to pray for your lost one, hold onto hope. While it is true that he/she has free will, and may choose to continue to walk afar, it is also possible that he/she may return to the loving arms of God who longs to redeem all our waywardness. (Did you know that Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, was once a prodigal who came back to the Lord? His mother Ruth Bell Graham wrote a compassionate book for moms like you, who are in this agonizing place. Perhaps you can get hold of it.)

Praying for you, just now.