Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sammy and Belle

Today, the prompt I am writing on from the Writer's Workshop is #3 - Tell us something you learned about a grandparent that surprised you. I'm writing about my paternal great-grandfather who left a great spiritual legacy. I was surprised to find an obituary telling of his conversion when I was tracing some genealogy.

Once there was a young man named Samuel.  When he was 26, he had a real experience with God.   He decided to “cast his lot in with the Lord’s people” and joined a little Missionary Baptist Church not far from where he lived.

Three years later, he married Arabelle.  He called her “Belle.” (My dad loved his Grandma Belle and wanted to acknowledge the great influence she had on him.  He named the little plot of land where I grew up for her. He was always going to put a sign up saying “Belle’s Acres” but never did …)

Cana Valley Farm in 2009

Sammy and Belle (that’s how I like to think of them) were hard workers. They had an apple orchard and some farm land in Illinois.  Their farm came to be known as Cana Valley Farm. Their two story white house stood on a bluff overlooking a big sturdy red barn and a good part of their farm.  The apple orchard was their main source of income.  At Christmas time, they often made gift baskets out of their beautiful apples and had them shipped via the railroad to Chicago and points north.

God blessed them with many children.  Some records show 11, other 9.  I believe it was 9 children plus two grandchildren they raised because of their daughter-in-law’s death. There were four boys, four girls who lived and one daughter who died as an infant. My grandmother was the youngest.

Sammy had a long life for those days.  He had worked so hard all his life.  He was almost 71 when he passed away after being sick for two years.  It is said he had seizures, some felt it was brought on by all the spraying of chemicals on his apple trees.  Pesticides were much more dangerous then.

When he died, my grandmother was barely 17.

Sammy’s obituary says, “This ends the history of one of God's noble men, a loving companion, a good father and neighbor. He has gone and many relatives and friends will miss him. But the thorn strewn paths [never?] again shall pierce his glory guided feet as he humbly vies around God's throne and his dear name repeat.”

Not too long ago, I visited his grave.  He is buried next to Belle in the churchyard at that little church he joined so many years ago. I have actually been to Cana Valley Farm and saw the house and the big red barn. (I took photos but they didn’t turn out so well…) I also met a lady who once used to live nearby and often visited Cana Valley to buy apples. (This would have been from my great grandmother, Belle, and her son.)  She said that she remembered everyone in the community thought our family were the nicest people.

My point is this:  Sammy was a godly man.  Since Grandma was only 17 when he passed, she didn’t share that many stories about him.  But we do have his obituary which tells of his conversion and his godly life. The other details I have shared were supplied by my dad.

My generation has been handed a godly legacy.  It is up to us what we do with it.  I don’t know why God chose to save people in my family when there are so many that have never even heard of Jesus. Why were we so blessed?

I have been blessed in that not only do I have Sammy’s legacy, but my maternal grandmother as well as my parents left a godly heritage. All of them demonstrated their beliefs by living the best they could for God.

No, they weren’t perfect.  But they trusted in God. I know they prayed for their children and grandchildren to know God.

Even so, it doesn’t matter what our parents did with their legacy.  What it comes down to is this:  what will each of us do with the godly heritage we’ve been given? We can only be responsible for what we ourselves do.

And for any of my readers who cannot say that they have a godly heritage, let me just say, let it start with you!  You be the one to be the example and live for Christ.  Pray for those who come after you.  You will never know, until eternity, what an impact your prayers may have on a future generation.

Perhaps you never "cast your lot in with the Lord's people."  It is simple to do - recognize your need of God's mercy.  None of us are perfect and we have missed the mark in so many ways.  If you believe, like I do, that Jesus gave His life for our sins, rose from the dead, and lives to extend grace and mercy to everyone that wants it, then just talk to Him about it.  He wants you just the way you are right now!

This post was written in community with Writer's Workshop.  You can link up here.


CJ said...

I often wonder what generations to come will dig up on those of us living now!

Great post!

Morgan said...

What a lovely legacy he left!

Visiting from Mama Kat's :)

Madamdreamweaver said...

Such a blessing to have a Godly heritage running in the family line. The faith runs strong in my family as well. Several relatives were missionaries and myself and my husband are currently missionaries with the Navigators.