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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

A Legacy to Live By

Mama and Daddy learned how to survive in the aftermath of the Great Depression while growing up in farming families. This was a good thing for our family. The economy took a downturn while Daddy was working hard to start a new business. With four small children to care for, it was challenging but over time Daddy succeeded. During our childhood, we saw perseverance modeled. My parents lacked higher education but made up for it in work ethic fueled by determination to give their children an easier life than they’d known growing up−and a better future.

My parents' sweat and backbreaking work overflowed from our large gardens onto Mama’s kitchen table. Our family gathered for full meals and never wondered where the next meal was coming from. I have no memories of Mama ever complaining.  She made do with what she had. Setting a happy tone in our home, she took us to church, made our clothes, and canned or stocked the big deep freezer with produce from our family’s large gardens. She raised chickens and had cows for milk and butter.

Daddy worked hard starting his business and succeeded by ambition, hard work, and willingness to learn. He also knew his wife believed in him and supported his dreams. He came home every night to his own personal haven, was refreshed and went out to conquer his dreams the next morning.

Mama loved God and tried her best to teach us about Him. Her faith-filled loving actions were the best lessons. She was up early to make breakfast, had a full day and still, this one tiny woman had energy to skip double rope faster than all of us. She made life fun. Instead of whining, she made inconveniences into adventures rather than chores. I remember an ice storm that encased our little part of the world in a crystalline icy shell. Power lines hanging heavy with ice were snapped by falling pine trees. The electricity was out for days. Mama made a cozy fire in the fireplace. We camped out in the living room. Wrapping us in layers of clothing to stay warm she rigged up a cook-fire in the front yard. In my mind, I can see her face now, glowing from the heat of the fire. She was laughing.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” Proverbs 31:25 NASB. 

We saw Mama smile in the face of difficult times because her ultimate hope was in her God.

My parents achieved their dreams for us. As a girl, I carried coal for a wood heater but my little sister, eight years younger, grew up learning to use a microwave. We all finished our education and went on to successfully follow our dreams.

Mama and Daddy left us a rich legacy in daily lessons of faith, hope, love, hard work, and perseverance through the trials of life. As children growing up we didn’t realize these daily character lessons were soaking in to become a part of our futures.  

“ ... in order to offer ourselves a model for you, so that you would follow our example.” 2 Thessalonians 3:9b NASB.

Our own children saw us diligently pursue our dreams through the victories, and yes, even the failures of our lives. Today, our parents’ legacy lives on as we watch yet another generation lovingly model faith, hope, love, hard work and perseverance for their children. It was and is a legacy to live by.

Copyright © 2018, Bobbie King Iliff, used with permission.

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