Saturday, March 14, 2009

Family Heritage

This weeks Friday Meme at The Heart of the Matter was My Family Heritage. They defined heritage as something passed on from previous generations. That got me thinking about something I've been wanted to write about for a while.

I have a wonderful family. The best heritage of have from them is their belief in God. I did not realize I knew a member of our family that was ever a non-believer, until I was reading a self-published book of poems and memories that my great-aunt Mearl wrote. In that book was the story of her father, my Great-grandpa Jack.

My Great-aunt titled this story "Back to the days of my childhood". I will just type from her book, since I'd like to have this saved on here both for future generations and in case something might happen to the book.

Jack and Dulcie May were united in Holy Matrimony Oct. 28, 1912. They spent some time with Grandpa and Grandma (Jack's parents).
Then came the time for them to leave to get a start in life. Dad had a team of horses, a covered wagon, a gun and a dog.
Mother had a Bible, a sewing machine and an incubator. So they loaded heir belongings and started on their way to Arkansas. Dad's dog followed all the way, but decided to go back home the next morning, which he did, back to Manes, MO.
Bill and Mert Kimbrow lived in Arkansas.
Dad and Mother moved close to them and started growing cotton to get a start in life. They worked hard and got by with what they had until they could do better. Then in Sept. 13, 1913, Marie, my oldest sister, was born. Mother and Dad were very happy, and she was the most beautiful baby they had ever seen, according to the paper.
And March 7, 1915, mother gave birth to twin girls and named them Mearl and Pearl. Pearl weighed 2 1/2 lbs. and I weighed 3 lbs. We were very small at 9 months after we were born, we all took Malaria fever, so we made our way back to Graff, MO on Beaver Creek, the place Grandpa found for Dad, our home.
Mother and Dad worked hard to provide for their children, whom they loved very much.
Mother was a Christian and taught us the Love of God. They very best teacher a child could ever have. (Misty's note: I hope one day my children can say this of me.)
She said there would come a time in our life, that we would know that we were lost and at that time we could become a child of God.
My name is Mearl, at the age of twelve years, I realized I was lost, and I wanted to be saved. We were going to a Revival at Green Mountain, also at Manes, and I was deeply troubled for two days. I was miserable, until I gave my life to God. I prayed for my Dad every night at Mother's knee. Then Mother would tuck us in bed and kneel in prayer to God.
Dad loved to go fishing, and he spent a lot of time fishing. That night for some unknown reason, his light would not burn and he came back to the house.
And Mother was still on her knees praying. He watched from the window and saw her get up and she was so happy she clapped her hands and shouted all over the house. We were asleep and she was alone.
Dad said that is the happiest woman I have ever seen. I'd give anything to be that happy. Up until that time, Dad thought that people who shouted at church were just putting on. But Dad said "I know that is real, there is no one to see her. Her children are asleep and I am fishing. Ha-Ha!"
The next morning was Sunday and Dad said "I want to go to church today. But I want to go alone." Mother had been taking us to church, so we all stayed at home and Dad rode his mule to church. He listened to the message and started home, was very heavy hearted, so he decided to ride among the trees by the side of the road, where he could be alone with God. He got down on his knees and prayed a prayer something like this: "Lord I want to know if you are really real. If you will make me happy enough to hug those blackjack trees, I will believe in you." And Dad said he became so happy that he could hardly wait to get home to tell Mother what God had done for Him.
I shall never forget that day, Mother and Dad both shouted all over that yard, and Dad told Mother that he had to tell his neighbor across the creek what God had done for him.
Then Dad came back and said, "I am still so happy, I must go tell my Dad at Manes (which was seven miles)." The happiness Dad had was real.
Dad spent the rest of his life living for God. We were truly a happy family. (End of story)

I am blessed to have had two sets of great-grandparents still living when I was born. I was around seven years old when Great-grandpa Jack died; Great-grandma Dulcie died when I was just over a year old. I saw Grandpa Jack, but only know him through stories. The first and last thing I witnessed him saying, was "Baby", my first visit to him as a baby. I don't actually remember that, of course. He was an invalid when I remember him. The author of the story, my Great-aunt Mearl, took care of him till he died at age 98. I love this story though. Such a legacy.

My Great-aunt Mearl wrote hymns. Some of which were published in her lifetime. She was a very devote woman, as was her sister, Pearl, my Grandma. My Grandma Pearl actually typed the entire Bible on a typewriter...just because.

There are so many things I could tell about my family, both sides (I have wonderful stories about my other great-grandparents...Edgar and Blanche, who were married 73 years!), but I will stick with this line for now.

So, next in my line would be my Mother, Judy. She was the youngest of six children! She lived most of growing up life on a farm in southern Missouri near a river which flooded many times. The water would go up over their neighbors houses and nearly up to their own. From my child's memory, I remember my Mother telling about when she asked Jesus into her heart. She wanted to be sure that if a flood did come up to their house, and she died, that she would know where she was going! I think she was around seven years old, give or take a year. I was seven years old, when I remember her telling me this story.

I grew up in middle Missouri, on a three acre suburb home. I had no fear of floods, but I did understand mortality at that age. Maybe around the same time great-grandpa Jack died. I remember dreaming about him dying, before it actually happened. I also remembered from Bible stories that Jesus taught people to pray in private, so I got myself into my favorite private spot, my bedroom closet, and prayed and asked Jesus to come into my heart. I didn't tell my Mom until a year or two later, when my brother told her he asked Jesus into his heart. I am sorry now that I kept that to myself so long, because later I realized (as Grandpa Jack did right off!) that the happiness of coming to Christ is something to share.

The story goes on with my baby sister, seven and one half years my junior. I loved her so much, I wanted to be sure that when I died she would one day join me in heaven, that I took every opportunity to witness to my my precious baby sister. She asked Jesus into her heart at age five. My brother, sister, and I were all baptised together by our Father when I was 13 years old.

My husband was raised a Catholic, I explained to him that only a personal relationship with Christ would get him into heaven. I witnessed his prayer to ask Jesus into his life, the same week we got offically engaged at his oldest sister's wedding. I remember him saying he felt a newness or a warmth right away.

I began witnessing to my children in much the same way as with my little sister. I could not imagine leaving this earth without knowing that I would be with them again. My daughter asked Jesus into her heart, on her knees, in our living room, with Daddy and baby brother witnessing, at about age 5 (I was shopping at Wal-Mart). We had just been to see her Uncle John preach. No one came forward at the invitional in the church, but his message had an impact on her little heart.

My son, asked Jesus into his heart at about age 4, sitting on our bar in the kitchen. He, his sister, and I were readig The Crippled Lamb, by Max Lucado. Suddendly, he stopped me reading and asked what he needed to do to go to heaven when he died.

I know that my children were very young, but I do believe they understood. I think of Jesus saying that to come to him, we have to become like little children. I also know that they understand mortality as I did at a young age. I have never kept my children from funerals (Ellie attended her first as a baby, Wyatt as a toddler), or the knowledge that this life on earth is short. Now my job, like that of my Great-grandma Dulcie is to be the teacher they need to continue to grow in the their relationship with the Lord Jesus.

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