My great-grandfather’s birthday was always celebrated at a big family reunion over Labor Day weekends. So, in honor of the holiday, I am sharing my memories with you. The family has gone on to be with the Lord, but I am looking forward to that family reunion in heaven when we will all be reunited forever. (First published on Heartwings Blog.)
As I look back on my childhood, I am very thankful for the godly heritage on both sides of my family. But sweet memories of visiting my maternal great-grandparents’ farm stand out most of all.
Bumping down the back roads of eastern Kentucky was like traveling on top of a long, curvy snake with clouds of dirt and loose gravel boiling behind us. Hours later the white farmhouse would finally appear around a bend, its white pillars and open porch extending welcoming arms. I would embrace my great-aunt Rosie first—a schoolteacher who never married—followed by my great-grandparents.
Welcoming company meant sitting down at their dining table laden with bowls and platters of everything imaginable, fresh from their garden and animal stock. We all bowed our heads for Grandpa to offer a long prayer of thanks. As I enjoyed the succulent food, I digested the adult conversation that mostly revolved around God and His Word. Those seeds of God’s goodness were planted in my soul from a young age.
After dinner the adults would rock on the front porch to visit and enjoy the sunset. I would play with their dog, Pal, or try to catch one of the wild kittens who lived under the house. As the dark of evening rose, I chased fireflies that dotted the air with their diamond-brilliance. When I tired of my games, I, too, would rock and listen as Rosie discussed who-married-whom. Eleven children and their descendants spanning several generations were challenging to track. That was how our family tree’s knowledge was passed down in those days, albeit orally and memorized.
Everyone retreated into the house by the time the trees blended into darkness and the volume of chirping crickets and hooting owls turned high. My mother always brought a gift of fruit, cheese, and crackers for munching late at night. It was a favorite time for us to sit together in our robes and slippers and share a bedtime snack.
But no one went to bed until after evening prayers. First, Grandpa would read from his huge, thick Bible and the adults would discuss the meaning of the verses. Sometimes they would tell stories of testimonies they had heard—the ones about missionaries in foreign lands especially held me spellbound. Or sometimes Grandpa would tell about his dream where he had witnessed Saul when he was converted on the road to Damascus—a dream so real, he insisted it must have been a vision.
Then we would all get down on our knees, facing our chairs, and each person would take a turn to pray aloud. I especially remember my grandfather lifting up all the family’s generations—all his seed—asking God for His salvation and blessings to rest on each one. I would often fall asleep to the lull of those sweet prayers ascending to heaven, sensing the presence of listening angels who gently wafted peace through the house with their feathered wings.
The most precious realization of my godly heritage has been experiencing those prayers as my life’s bedrock. Grandpa’s words still ring in my memory, and I know I am walking down long halls of prayer laid by him and generations of godly family before him.
The comfort of knowing how God has worked in my life through this foundation underscores the importance of its continuance. I, too, am laying another layer of prayer on top of this mountain as a path for my children and future generations to trod.
Isn’t that an important assignment for all of us to embrace?
How are you thankful for memories of your godly heritage?