Years ago I sat in an auditorium full of parents, grandparents, and elementary aged-children, cameras firing, videos recording, and little hands waving at family members in the audience.  It was Grandparent’s Day at my kids’ school – a day when grandparents walk in and out of classrooms admiring artwork, science projects, salt maps, and essays.  Each classroom displayed the work of diligent students, admired by doting parents and grandparents.  We then walked from their classrooms to an auditorium where our kids sang songs and shared stories. It’s a rare time where multiple generations are gathered in one space.  That year’s theme was Heirlooms.  Each child was invited to wear at least one heirloom during the program, something passed down from one generation to the next.  I surveyed these elementary students wearing cowboy hats, military pendants, strands of pearls and lockets, each item telling the story of someone within the lineage of that family.

Different students approached the microphone and told a favorite memory involving their grandparent.  I thought of the thousands of stories represented in that one room, the hundreds of heirlooms, and the people who handed them over.  I then thought of the unseen heirlooms, gifts passed down over decades and decades – gifts of sacrifice, courage, hope and faith.

My son’s wore pendants that belonged to their great-grandfather, my grandfather.  “Gran,” as we affectionately refer to him, fought in WWII, came home and started a successful business as a builder and general contractor, and is still living today.  We have a photograph of he and my grandmother holding my twins when they were only weeks old, a photograph I treasure.  

I am grateful they lived to know my sons, and for them to know them.  I’m grateful they know stories of my grandfather fighting for our freedom and then working as a builder, and how I spent the summer helping him build a house, and what I learned about hard work, sacrifice and integrity in that summer.  

He has given me many of his old tools that I treasure and will someday be passed down to my sons and their children after.  Heirlooms that will tell the story of man who built homes, but more importantly built a life and a legacy that is alive and well in his great-grandchildren.  

His wife, my beloved grandmother, recently went to be with the Lord.  She was 91 years old.   I had the privilege of speaking at her funeral.   I had shared stories of this delightful, joy-filled, woman who was happiest in the company of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  I shared this passage from scripture where Paul is reminding Timothy of the legacy of faith that existed in his family.   

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother and in your mother and, I am persuaded , now lives in you also.  

2 Timothy 1:5, NIV

I spoke about my grandmother’s sincere faith.   She birthed six children.  She lost a son as an infant, at only a week old.  She also lost an adult daughter.   There’s really nothing more unbearable than watching a mother lose her child.  She grieved with sincerity, she struggled with sincerity and she leaned into Jesus with such sincerity, strength and grace.

She lived a life of sincere faith.  She has passed that down.  Her handprint is on all of us.   I challenged the family and friends in the room that there would be no better way to celebrate the life of this woman we loved than to love and serve the people around us, to value family, and the pray for a deep and abiding faith.   We certainly had a great role model.   

What heirlooms do you have that hold value for you?

What do you want to pass on to your children?  Physical objects and more importantly gifts that can’t be held with hands.