Thinking Generationally

Nothing in this world made my Mama Grace more proud than her three grandchildren (my two younger siblings and myself). And, trust me, she had plenty else in her life to be proud about. Boy, she loved to show us off.

I remember one particular holiday season quite a few years ago when she dragged the three of us, donned in adorable  Christmas sweatshirts, to an Olan Mills studio to have Christmas pictures made. Nobody, besides Mama Grace, was happy about this little outing. In fact, my little brother was so unhappy about having to endure this photo shoot that he refused to pull down the sleeves of his Charlie Brown Christmas sweatshirt for the pictures.

A 16×20 of the three of us from that day still graces my grandparents’ dining room wall. Let me just say, we are a sight to behold in that picture—me with my overlapping  buckteeth (pre-braces days), Jenny with thick bangs straight across her forehead, and Will with his sweatshirt sleeves pushed above his elbows and bright red cowboy boots on his feet. Wow.

We had taken better pictures before. We have taken better pictures since. But Mama Grace didn’t care. That picture was going on her wall. I grimace a little every time I see it, but she thought it was absolutely beautiful. She was proud to show us off, regardless of what we looked like. She loved us so much and would have done anything in the world for us simply because we were her grands. Mama Grace always made us feel as if we were the smartest, most talented, most special children in the world. Goodness, she was a precious person. I wish she could have met Luke.

I also wish Grandy (Dad’s mom) could have met my boy. She knew he was coming. When I told Grandy I was pregnant, she told me she had recently been “praying generationally.” I think she knew she didn’t have much time left on this earth and was thinking about the legacy she would leave in and through those who came after her. I know she was praying that each of her future “greats” would come to know the Lord intimately, as she knew him.

Over the past week, I have really been thinking generationally (if I may tweak Grandy’s phraseology). Adam’s Papa is very sick, and we expect that it will not be very long before the Lord calls him home. I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that, in most families, we simultaneously celebrate the beginning of new lives and mourn the ending of older lives on this earth. As Luke’s little body is growing, developing, and coming alive more each day, his great Papa’s body is starting to slow down and shut down. Luke is just starting to wake up, and his Papa is about to go to sleep.

Papa is one of the sweetest men I have ever met in my life. He accepted me as a member of their family from the first moment he met me. When I’m with him, I see so many of the qualities I admire in Adam. I know they were Papa’s first…passed down. We grieve the ending of life on earth for those who are dear to our hearts—those like Papa— because it is so hard to bear their absence. At the same time, we celebrate lives well lived, legacies passed along, and deep heritage.

I am grateful for the generations who came before us in our family. This week, I am feeling particularly grateful for our grandparents—Mama Grace and Granddaddy, Grandy and Papa, Mommaw and Papa, Granddaddy, Grandmother, and Grand Don. They have all loved us well and given to us generously. After we got married and moved to Louisville on faith (without a job prospect in sight), Adam and I lived off a generous financial wedding gift from my Granddaddy and Mama Grace for a few weeks. Our grandparents haven’t  given to us only financially, though. They have given us a heritage of faith. They have given us more love than we can stand. They raised our parents to one day become godly, loving parents to us, that we may become the same kind of parents to our own children. I think that’s what Grandy might have had in mind when she said she was praying generationally.

Luke’s baby gift from Papa and Grandy (my Dad’s parents) was an antique silver napkin ring from the 1800’s that happened to already have his name engraved on it. It came from the antique market where Grandy shopped when she was in the business of buying and selling antiques. My aunts picked this gift out for Luke from Grandy and Papa after Grandy had already gone home to heaven. They explained to me that, although it was not a practical baby gift, it was meant to be a reminder of Grandy—the person she was and the legacy she left. She prayed for my Luke. She loved him before he was born. Though he will not know her on this earth, she is still influencing his life through her legacy. Praise God for generations. Praise God for generations of faithfulness and love.

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