Tag Archives: Heritage

A Weird Christmas Legacy—and a Spiritual One

16 Dec

I thought it was fake Christmas news—a hoax. It turns out, it was “false” teeth news … along with a glass eye!

Phil Luciano, a columnist for the Peoria Journal Star, wrote recently about a dead grandpa’s false teeth and glass eye—handed over to his step-grandchildren after his death—that are re-gifted by family members in a shocking, odd Christmas tradition.

Early on, they simply re-gifted Ralph Yocum’s teeth and eye. Imagine the recipient’s shock on opening such a gift!

Now family members are more creative. They have repackaging the human remains in a snow globe, placed it in soap for a unique soap-on-a rope, inserted it in a gumball machine with gumballs, attached them to wind chimes, and even stuffed them into a cosmetically-altered “Tickle Me Elmo” doll.

Though weird, the legend of the teeth and eye continues.

It’s a family legacy that keeps old Ralph’s memory alive.

My writer friend, Kathy Howard,* has odd family heirlooms too:   her great-grandfather’s dental bridge, and a jar with her mom’s gallstones from surgery in the 1970s!

My husband’s family has a strange family legacy that makes all of us laugh. We pass along an old, gold-painted “pee pot” to family members on special occasions. It evokes memories of years of vacation traveling when Bob and his siblings needed “to go,” but their dad didn’t want to stop to find a bathroom! (Hence, the “pee pot.”)

But on a more serious note, family legacies are often opportunities to pass something treasured down through the generations.

A few years ago, Kathy—who I mentioned above—wrote about ways to pass down a spiritual legacy. She encouraged people, using principles from Deuteronomy 6:1-9, to do four things.

Let me summarize her four points here:

1. Start with Yourself.

Be a living demonstration of the truth of scripture and authentic faith.

Don’t be afraid to live your faith in front of your kids!

2. Give Them God’s Word. 

Purposefully share scripture in a variety of ways and in various circumstances.

3. Tell Your Family Stories.

Share what God has done for you and your family. “Weave them into the fabric of your family history,” Kathy wrote. “Don’t let yourself or your children forget!”

4. Stand Firm in Shaky Times.

Stand firm because “an unshakable faith in shaky times is the most effective testimony you can give your children,” Kathy said.

That kind of legacy will be meaningful because it will impact the next generation. It has the potential to instill faith in Christ and keep His memory “alive” in our families and homes.

It’s a lot more powerful and life changing than a snow globe filled with grandpa’s teeth and eye!

– Dawn

* Kathy Howard wrote Unshakable Faith: 8 Traits for Rock-Solid Living, which I highly recommend! Her blog is here.





A Grandparent’s Joys

27 Mar

One of my favorite quotes about grandmothers is this: “Grandmas are moms with lost of frosting.”

Comedian Bill Cosby had a way of making grandparent relationships come alive. I’ve always loved this story he told about his children’s grandmother (see photo).


I was blessed to have two wonderful grandmas … not at all alike, and each providing me with sweet memories and a storehouse of wisdom. But that doesn’t mean I know everything about being a grammy.

I have two “grandmother” gift books I like to read occasionally, just to keep realistic expectations and to remind myself what a “good grandmother” looks like.

Some of the gems I read in The Joy of Grandparenting include:

  • The good news is that grandchildren keep you young. The bad news is that afterwards you “feel your age.” Grandchildren help keep you flexible – in more ways than one!
  • Childhood memories of how Grandma’s house smelled and looked never leave you.KissingGrandma
  • All grandparents have a license to be silly. Grandchildren are your passport to a world of fun and adventure.
  • Show your grandchildren that you can grow older without acting “old” – age gracefully.
  • Don’t be afraid to show your affection for each other when your grandchildren are around.
  • Share the joy of reading with your grandchildren – as often as possible. Introduce your grandchild to the books you treasured as a child.
  • Grandchildren love hearing your “When I was your age” stories – the first time.

In Grandmothers Are Special, I smile when I read about others’ thoughts and opinions on grandparenting:

  • Louisa May Alcott: “A house needs a grandma in it.”
  • Clara Ortega: “Grandmas mustn’t take sides – but there’s nothing to stop them winking!”
  • A grandmother named Pat: “You know, I think I really was meant to be a grandmother. It was mothering that confused me for all those years.”
  • Jewish proverb: “One of life’s greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn’t good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.”
  • Joan McIntosh: “They say genes skip generations. Maybe that’s why grandparents find their grandchildren so likeable!”
  • Susan Strasberg: “I loved [my grandparents’] home. Everything smelled older, worn but safe; the food aroma had baked itself into the furniture.

My favorite is by humorist Erma Bombeck: “Grandmothers have three major objectives: keep billfold pictures current, buy whatever their grandchildren are selling,  and give impractical gifts that parents have forbidden them to have.”

Yes, these are fun and inspiring comments, but then I turn to the Book of all Books, the Bible, and soak in God’s rich wisdom.

Psalm 128:6a  says, “May you live to see your children’s children….” There was a time I just wanted to live long enough to see my grandchildren; but the older I get, the more I want to stay strong so I can “yield fruit” in my old age (Psalm 92:14). I want to see those HugForGrandmagrandchildren grow up, get launched from their parents, and start homes of their own.

I want to see great-grandchildren!

Because I love my grandchildren, I love to give them gifts (and Proverbs 13:22 suggests that a wise  grandparent “leaves an inheritance” to grandchildren); but the greatest gift we can leave them is to pass on a godly heritage (Deuteronomy 4:9; 2 Timothy 1:5).

Psalm 145:4 explains the responsibility of one generation teaching another about God. We certainly can live out authentic faith in front of our grandchildren, but we also need to be intentional in speaking up and pointing our grandchildren to the Creator who sent Jesus to redeem them and give them eternal life.

Sharon Hoffman encouraged me in grandparenting when she wrote,* “You are a valuable representative of the God who created you. Being a grandmom is a crucial role in His kingdom. You are a child of the most High God. When God created you, He also designed a specific purpose for you alone to accomplish at this particular place and time in history. Even if your grandchildren have two or more grandmothers in addition to you, God longs for you to be a representative of His love to the children that He has place in your life.”

Proverbs 17:6a says, “Children’s children are a crown to the aged….” Yes, grandchildren distinguish us. They are our crowning glory, our pride and joy. I love my “Grammy crown.”

* Sharon Hoffman, A Car Seat in My Convertible? Giving Your Grandkids the Spiritual Ride of Their Lives, New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, AL, 1008), p. 26

– Dawn

Legacy Takes More than a Light Switch Plate

6 May

In 1939 and again in 1964, Westinghouse buried some time capsules with some common and some rather odd contents:   a deck of cards, a bikini, a Polaroid camera, a Bible,  a Beatles record, a child’s Mickey Mouse cup, credit cards, a copy of the sci-fi magazine “Amazing Stories” in microfilm form, etc.

You can probably guess which items belonged in each capsule ~ but you’d be wrong if you put “Bible” in the 1939 capsule.

Would you have added these things in time capsules?

Time capsules are all about passing on information about today to someone in the future.

I recently saw a “Light Switch Time Capsule that got me thinking. The author of the post, Sean Michael Ragan, said, “I get nostalgic when I move out of a home, especially if it’s one I’ve lived in awhile. Leaving a secret treasure or two stashed here and there, seemed to help me get closure.” Instead of dropping a note in the wall (as some have done), Sean wrote a message on the back of a standard light switch plate.

The switch plate had a note on the back to tell all future home owners a little about the previous home owner’s history in the home. This particular person’s story was a little depressing, actually, as he described some of his personal choices. But there is something in each of our hearts that wants to pass on information to others about what we think is important, or information about how to deal with things in the future.

As a Christian woman, I want to leave a legacy; I want to be sure my family knows what I think is important (God, His Word, and serving the Lord) ~ but it will take a lot more than a simple light switch time capsule to pass on that information.

So where can I “leave” my legacy information (my time capsules*) to make a real difference?

First, I can leave a legacy in my history  (or heritage). I can leave my children and grandchildren photos and family tree information, special recipes and keepsakes ~ sharing cultural traditions and some of the family history that made me the person I am, including my Christian heritage.

The Israelites left memorial stone altars for future generations. For example, they made a mound of stones after crossing the Jordan River on dry ground (Joshua 4:1-8), and later, when people asked the meaning of the stones, they talked about the faithfulness of God in caring for His people.

I’ve told my children about Christians in their background who ministered as preachers and missionaries and faithful servants of God in their churches. They need to know they have a godly heritage, and that they can trust in the Lord for their future (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Second, I can leave a legacy in the hearts of each of my children and grandchildren. I can write truth on their hearts. I can spend time getting to know the unique personalities and needs of each one, and perhaps tailoring some biblical information (or counsel, when asked) to help them deal with things in their lives or the future.

Proverbs 1:8 says, “Listen my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” This assumes that we are instructing and teaching.” We are to faithfully teach our children and grandchildren about the love and righteousness of God (Psalm 103:17-18).

Third, I can leave a legacy in my “handbook,” my copy of the Word of God. I want to leave them notes in my personal Bibles that they can read in the years to come, if they so choose.

Everything else ~ all material goods ~ will fall apart or whither away, but the Word of God will endure forever (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35), and it is timeless and relevant for my family’s future needs and direction. I want them to understand that the scriptures “worked” for me. They comforted and counseled me in times of need, and they were a steady resource. The Word is alive and powerful! (Hebrews 4:12)

Fourth, I can leave a legacy in my home. I might write words of wisdom on items in my home, that they will read (and perhaps want) after I am gone. I think of the Israelites’ mezuzahs by their doorposts ~ small parchments inscribed with a short version of their Torah. It’s original purpose was to help the Jews remember the presence and commands of God (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9).

While I think it’s more important that God’s Word is inscribed on our hearts, it certainly can’t hurt to have home decorations that remind us of who God is and what He is doing in our lives. And these works of art ~ plaques, paintings, sculptures, etc. ~ can be passed down to our family members.

I will need to be proactive and intentional about all of this “leaving,” of course. In the busyness of life, I must make time to remember legacy or it won’t magically happen.

What do you do to pass on family traditions and the truth of the Word of God? Where else might I leave some legacy information?

* Just for fun:

At your next family reunion, create a time capsule of family memories. Ask each guest at the reunion to bring an object they feel represents their current interests or something about the culture at that time. Seal and wrap the time capsule, and save it for the next reunion!

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