A Legacy is what we are leaving moment by moment each day. It’s not something that we wake up one morning at age 75 and say, “Well, today’s the day I start leaving my legacy.”
No, you are developing your legacy right now. How’s it looking? What do your children and their children need most from you? Do they need more stuff and a nicer house? Is that what makes a great legacy?
How about a value for a lasting marriage and a stable home full of unconditional love that understands that mercy and consequences are both healthy components in life?
What about a strong work ethic that says, “I’m going to give more to society than I take?”
Could it be that they need an example of someone whose values are non-negotiable who puts other’s needs ahead of their own even to the point of sacrifice?
Are the intangible gifts that remain after we are gone more needed by our offspring than material things?
We all leave a legacy, however small or large, depending on the lives we touch. While we and our children are constantly barraged with the shiny and exciting and newer and better, our families need something far more valuable from us.
THE HUMBLE GATHERING PLACE
My grandparents lived on a very humble farm in rural Iowa and it just happened to be a favorite place for all of us grandchildren. Like other women from her era, Grandma Melton raised a big garden, hung her laundry on the clothesline to dry, and was faithful to re-purpose most everything – from the bag that bread came in to whipped cream containers.
Most Wednesday nights after church we’d go to Grandma’s to have ham sandwiches (often from a hog they had butchered) and homemade applesauce. She loved the color pink so her over-sized family kitchen was Pepto-bismol pink for years, until the grown children thought it needed a refresher and they painted it sunshine yellow.
Since money was tight for my grandparents, presents at Christmas or our birthdays were usually a two-dollar bill. Even as a kid, that didn’t bother me at all because I knew they gave us unconditional love, lots of praise for hard work, a sense of belonging, and so much more. Of course I didn’t identify those gifts by name, but I knew how they made me feel and I knew that their genuinely sacrificial love for all of us was infinitely better than “stuff.” They also passed on a heritage of an unwavering commitment to God, marriage, family, and community that I am especially grateful for today.
Chores were not optional on the farm. While my chores were more domestic like dusting and cleaning, my brother spent lots of time on a tractor and in a cornfield.
Hard work provides children a wonderful sense of self-worth from accomplishment and being needed.
I always left from each visit with a full heart, full stomach, and memories of new adventures on the tree swing, walking to the pond, exploring in the barn, or playing with the old toys that were stashed in the upstairs bedroom.
Grandma and Grandpa didn’t just model good values, they insisted on them from each of us grandkids, values such as hard work, keeping our word, giving sacrificially, being humble enough to serve others joyfully, and loving Jesus with total abandon.
This gathering place represents what kids really need growing up: clear boundaries and values, time for adventure, lots of unconditional love, and generous praise for hard work.
The GOOD NEWS Box
A big box television with rabbit ears sat untouched in the living room of their farmhouse except for the thirty-minute nightly news and weekly for The Lawrence Welk Show, the Billy Graham preaching hour, and The Dukes of Hazard. Ha! I caught you off guard with the Dukes of Hazard thing, huh? I looked forward to every Friday night when we would eat chili with cornbread and then head to the living room to watch “the Dukes and Roscoe P. Coltrane.”
To be honest, as a child, I didn’t look forward to watching Billy Graham and I wouldn’t sit and listen for very long but my Grandma was always glued to the screen to hear that southern drawl booming across a huge audience of people, telling of a God who came to earth to save people from their hopelessness, ending in a massive wave of people heading toward the stage to pray with Billy and accept Christ as their Savior.