Leaving a Legacy

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My elderly neighbor (I’ll call her Viv) phoned me this week and told me a sweet story about the family that used to live in our house. My husband and I bought the house directly behind the home I grew up in, when our own children were quite young and my parents were still living in my childhood home.

Anyway, Viv was talking to the former owner of our present house who told her that one day my dad called their young son over to his yard and gave him a small pine tree. They think maybe it was Arbor Day. When they sold the house “Andy” said they needed to bring his tree. So they did. They planted it in the yard of their new home and it grew tall and strong, and so did Andy.

When Andy graduated he got his picture taken in his cap and gown in front of his pine tree. When he got married he and his wife took pictures in front of his pine tree. Which is intriguing to me because my favorite place to take family photos in our yard (Andy’s old one) is in front of an old pine tree. I don’t know who planted it (our house has had several owners before we bought it) but I love this shared history of pine trees.

The pine tree in our yard is actually the only original tree left in our backyard from when we purchased our house. The other trees either died or were blown down in a big storm we had. But we planted young saplings and they grew up with our children running around them and climbing up their narrow trunks and now those trees are tall and mature and hold swings that our grandchildren “fly to the moon in”, and a hammock for their parents to sway and catch their breath in.

Another memory tickled my heart the other week. I had my two six year old granddaughters over for a special day before summer ended and school started again. We decorated headbands and sewed pillows for dolls and had a lovely tea party out on the deck all dressed up in flower girl dresses, left from my daughter’s younger days.

I wanted to do some baking with them too, and I had a distant memory of making a banana pudding dessert with my mom years ago. So I bought the supplies and kind of winged the recipe as I directed them to line their pie pans with Nilla wafers and cut up bananas. I helped them mix together some instant vanilla pudding and they each layered it with wafers and bananas in their own pie tins.

One of our sons and his family joined us for supper that night and we all had some of the pie for dessert. It was better than I expected. My husband really liked it and it brought back memories of his own mom making it, but he thought she used a regular pie crust or maybe a graham cracker crust, and that the Nilla wafers were more for garnish.

Jeff liked it so much he asked me to make it one day and so I put it together with a graham cracker crust. I still enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as with the Nilla wafer crust. Then this week I was watching “Cooking with Brenda Gandt”. (She is on Facebook and You-Tube and she just warms my heart. She has a southern accent that reminds me of my Grandma and she is just so warm and real and encouraging, I feel like I’m hanging out in a relative’s kitchen watching her cook.)

Anyway, this week I saw a video of Brenda where she was making banana dessert with pudding and Nilla wafers, and she didn’t use a crust. She just lined her pan with the wafers. Maybe that’s the Southern way to make it? It made me happy. It made me think maybe my subconscious remembered how my momma taught me to make it years ago! I even have a photo of us making it!

My parents are with me in so many memories. It comforts me to think they are remembered by others too. I love that Andy grew up with the tree my dad gave him. I feel momma close by as I use her recipes to make new memories with my granddaughters.

But my favorite heritage moment lately was this past weekend when one of my sons told his four year old daughter, “Tell Mimi your Bible verses.” And, with just a little help getting started, she recited four verses perfectly. I was so proud and misty

And it made me think about how we learned Bible verses together as my kids were growing up and how I memorized verses while I was growing up and I’m sure my parents and grandparents learned some of the same verses as they were growing up. I wonder how far back that legacy goes and how much it has impacted each generation.

And I’m so grateful for trees that grow strong and tall with our children. And for recipes that stir up sweet memories. And I’m especially grateful for the precious heritage of faith in Jesus and verses hidden away in our hearts and passed down from generation to generation.

No matter what kind of heritage has been passed down to you, you have the opportunity to leave the world a better place. Walk closely with Jesus and share your faith with others. Teach a child a Bible verse or hymn of truth. Paint a picture that inspires. Write a poem, share a recipe, teach a skill. Pray for your family and neighborhood and world. Plant a tree. Or give one to the neighbor boy.

Ask God what He wants you to do to leave a legacy and trust and obey.

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