Yesterday was a day of mixed emotions for me. There was much joy as we celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents and some friends, giving thanks for all that God has done for us. We laughed and feasted, shared what we were thankful for, and watched the children play games and have fun together. Underlying the joy, however, was a bit of sadness as well. As I pulled out my grandmother’s china, an ache filled my heart. I remembered the many, many holidays celebrated at her house in Tulsa, eating off these same beautiful plates. I remembered her sweet, servant hands cooking and serving an amazing meal and making it look so easy. I remembered our special relationship and how very much she meant to me, and I missed her deeply.
It was also the first time I was in charge of the turkey. After almost twenty-one years of marriage, believe it or not, I had never really cooked the turkey. We were always either at one of our grandparents’ or parents’ houses, or visiting a sibling out of state. Even the very few years we were at our own house, my mom and dad usually handled the turkey. Yesterday morning, as I wrestled a stubborn and slippery 17-lb. turkey and thought, “I sure hope this turns out!”, I felt as if a torch had been passed. As I picked up the phone (several times!) to call my mother for advice, the thought occurred to me, “How will I do this without her advice when she is gone?” Again, my heart ached. As my mom and I discussed this, I learned that she, too, was feeling these things. She confessed that she felt the same way when my grandmother died. She had become accustomed to having her sweet mother-in-law on the other end of the phone, lovingly dispensing advice for these big occasions, and she missed her.
Then, as my oldest daughter joined me in the kitchen as I cooked up the Thanksgiving feast, she sadly said, “I only have two more Thanksgivings at home after this one.” My mind flashed ahead and I pictured being at home, alone, cooking the Thanksgiving meal and waiting for my children to arrive. I imagined being the one who was supposed to have all the answers, without my mother to turn to for advice. I imagined Molly cooking her own Thanksgiving feast and calling me on the phone to find out how to cook the turkey. All of a sudden, I could see the swift progression of time and the continual passing of the torch from one generation to the next.
In our Thanksgiving devotional, my husband shared about our goal of teaching our children to love and serve God, and then teaching them to teach their children. In this quiet way, we can profoundly impact our world. It is a passing of the baton of faith, from one generation to the next. We are deeply convicted that we must have a multi-generational vision of training up our families. We must be praying, not only for our children, but for our future grandchildren and great-grandchildren . In the same way that my mother learned to cook a Thanksgiving feast from her mother and mother-in-law, and then taught me to do the same, we must be passing on the tenets of our faith to our children, and instilling in them the desire to do the same with their own children.
As I looked around at the faces of my family at our Thanksgiving table, I breathed a silent prayer. I prayed for many more years of enjoying my mother’s teaching and to savor every moment of time that God has given me with her, learning from a woman who is the embodiment of a gentle and quiet spirit. I prayed for my children, that they would grow up to love and serve their Heavenly Father and raise their children to do the same. I prayed for my husband, and thanked God for his spiritual leadership. And, lastly, I thanked my Lord for so graciously giving me these precious souls to cherish and asked that He help me to be ready to face this coming passing of the torch.
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